EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Copyright © Geoff Thompson 2007 All rights reserved. The right of Geoff Thompson to be identified as the author of this work have been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Condition of Sale This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent publisher. Summersdale Publishers Ltd 46 West Street Chichester West Sussex PO19 1RP UK www.summersdale.com Printed and bound in Great Britain ISBN: 1-84024-597-2 ISBN 13: 978-1-84024-597-4

As always, with big love and thanks to my beautiful wife Sharon for carrying my bones over some tough terrain. Thank you to my lovely friend Margaret Ring for being an inspiration to me and my children over many a McDonald’s coffee.

Also by Geoff Thompson Red Mist Watch My Back: The Geoff Thompson Autobiography The Elephant and the Twig: The Art of Positive Thinking The Great Escape: The 10 Secrets to Loving Your Life and Living Your Dreams Fear – The Friend of Exceptional People: Techniques in Controlling Fear Shape Shifter: Transform Your Life in 1 Day The Formula: The Secret to a Better Life Stress Buster: How to Stop Stress from Killing You Dead or Alive: The Choice is Yours .

............................................................................................................................Contents Foreword..........................118 They Laughed at Lowry........................................................................................................122 Time.......47 Gratitude: a Bit of Invisible Support......................................................114 There is No Land Rover..............18 Change Chaser...............................................................23 Easy...........................................................................................................................103 The Power of Books..........................135 What do You Want to do?.......................64 Intention............83 Suffering............................93 The Blame Trap...................................................................................................41 Goals...........9 Carp Fishing.........14 Catching Crabs ..........................................................86 The Art of Restriction............................. Looking In.......149 You Are What You Ingest.........68 Looking Out.........98 The Pornographic Wasp........................35 Forgiveness: the Healthy Option.................................................................153 ...............................................7 Be Nice.....60 Have Your Cake and Eat It......................................75 Night-travellers..........................................27 Everest..................................................................140 Who am I to be a Success?....................................................................108 The Reciprocal Universe...................126 Waterfall.....................................................80 Reciprocal Returns..................131 We Are All Dying........................................................................30 Everything that Happens to Me is Good..............................................................................................................................................................................................


Foreword Although I am primarily a writer of books and films. magazines and my website.) There is something very satisfying and enjoyable (I think) about filling one of life’s many stolen or idle moments with a good. After many requests from readers (and several prompts from Richard Barnes. I hope this proves to be just that. over the years I have also penned a bevy of articles for newspapers. (And whatever you do. my friend and web master) I have decided to collect my favourites into the book you have before you now. I personally love an uplifting article on the commute to work or a cerebral snack over lunch. Geoff Thompson 7 . don’t give me a book to read in the loo – I might never come out again. quick read. I’ve also added a few extended and revised extracts from my book The Elephant and the Twig because they fit the ethos of this work.


There is a massive profit in being nice. as long as you are not being nice for profit. 9 . And yet the mention of the reciprocality of genuine niceness does not seem to find its way into the reams of written work on doing business. ‘I knew a man they called him mad the more he gave the more he had. not because it is sweet. How bizarre.Chapter 1 Be Nice I read a fabulous poem once that has always stuck with me. rather because it is true.’ I think we can assume from this small ditty that the man in question was a nice man who had stumbled upon one of life’s great secrets: What you give out will return. The poem went.

I have read books by the guys and gals that have made it. speculation. Many of the books talked about the win-win mentality. and of course I have read – looking for inspiration – plenty about business. But none advised me about the most important lesson in business: Be nice. about ethics. those that dare to give and ask nothing in return. cynical environment. The books have all been enlightening. philosophers and gurus and taught about the dangers of money and power. about profit and loss. risk taking. the art of making a living. lost it and made it back again. Even the ones that were terrible taught me about where I didn’t want to be. and even those that made it and hid the proceeds under the bed in a biscuit tin for fear of losing it all. lost it. and dedication. from theology to philosophy and law.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD In my pursuit of freedom through information I have studied everything from religion to spirituality. Some quoted great sages. It costs nothing and it goes a hell of a long way (and comes back laden with profit). innovation. made it and given it all away. courage in business. The business world can often be a very difficult. Nobody does 10 . Those who scratch backs without asking for their own to be scratched are often judged with the utmost scepticism. It is not hard. People are often guilty of believing that everyone has an agenda – especially those who dare to be nice. Simply be nice. made it and squandered it. about morals.

What you give out always returns. But of course this is not true. State of Play. Always. They are all generous. You might think that his success is simply because of his hard work. His work is amazing. For those who don’t know him. He has deals and contracts and commissions coming out of his very eyes. People are throwing work at him. Clocking Off. who is an incredibly successful writer. both with his time and his advice. I have a friend. his work ethic even more so.BE NICE anything for nothing. He never stops giving. It is the law. His capacity to help others to fulfil their 11 . most inspiring people in my world are all nice. They are all kind and do good deeds purely for the love of doing them. The best. He is also an extremely generous man. Touching Evil and Linda Green to name just a few of the shows he’s created. His house is like Euston Station on a Friday afternoon with all the comings and goings of the people he is helping. You’d be wrong. Paul Abbot. he is probably the top British TV writer of all time. They all do things for me – and for many others – with no thought of profit. He never stops being nice. most attractive. If you go to his house and watch how he works you will see why he is so successful. He is responsible for (most recently) Shameless. There is no such thing as a free lunch. He is a dynamo.

The great thing about Paul and Glenn and May is that most of the people they look after are not even in a position to return the favour. People will bend themselves into all sorts of contorted shapes (including over backwards) so that they can help. people will go out of their way to find. I am always hearing stories about how nice my friend Glenn Smith is. or offer them anything other than gratitude. And I am not talking 12 . and although my Auntie May is no longer on this plane. He gets in loads and loads of work and gives much of it away to new writers. And the more he gives away the more he seems to get back. And my Auntie May (sadly now deceased) literally filled the room with her capacity to be nice and to give for no other profit than the joy it brought her. Ultimately. and how many people he helps without asking anything in return. And yet the more they give the more they seem to get. Similarly. I have found that people want to work with people who are nice. Glenn is thriving in business and life. struggling writers. If they are nice. even create work for them. people will help them tighten their game. Even if – at this present moment in time – their game is not as sharp as it might be. often writers that the system has chewed up and spat out. she has found immortality in the minds of many people (not least mine) just because she was so generous and nice. as is Paul.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD own ambitions and dreams seems limitless. The effect is amazing.

BE NICE about pseudo-nice. 13 . there will ultimately be no room in business for you. nice to fit in or even nice to impress. People like it when you are nice. Dishonesty in business is always the eventual harbinger of doom. The meek (as they say) will inherit the earth. I am sure that to some of the hard-line business people out there this might sound a little trite: ‘Be a nice person. nice for the effect. If the nice you are offering is not of the genuine variety then it is a lie.) But I would argue that if you are not nice. unless being nice is congruent with who you actually are.’ I have even been told that there is no room in business for nice people. There is no profit in being nice. it will only find permanent abode with those who do. I am only talking about the genuine article. (Business types often mistake nice for weak. Being nice because it helps others. and whilst profit may sojourn with those who do not heed the rules.

and the heavy travelling schedule. As you can imagine 14 .Chapter 2 Carp Fishing I can remember (as though it were yesterday) a troubling internal conflict that I was wrestling with about five-years ago. I was teaching in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. I had also undertaken a huge financial risk when I decided to amalgamate all my bouncer books (Watch My Back. I was also right in the middle of a very big book signing tour (for Watch My Back) that saw me visiting 60 shops in about 32 cities. Scotland with my friend Peter Consterdine. As well as the tour. But teaching was just one of the myriad balls I was juggling at the time. the teaching. Bouncer and On The Door) into a hardcover omnibus edition and self-publish it in a bid to make The Sunday Times bestseller list. of which Edinburgh was but one.

until fate intervened. but with everything I was already carrying this one thing seemed to tip me over the edge. he was the one who initially took me under his wing and helped me develop some very raw ideas into books. Now you might think that this is par for the course when you are a profiled author. I was becoming anxious and angry. whether I wanted to actually be on the martial-arts scene at all if it spawned and seemingly encouraged such inane negativity. by me – decided to make it their life’s mission to slander and threaten me via the Letters page of the very magazine I was a columnist in. in fact. Peter has always been a mentor to me.CARP FISHING I was stretched. Someone – disgruntled by my work. The publication of these letters actually made me question whether I really wanted to write for this magazine anymore. In fact. It made me question whether I wanted the profile I was receiving and. my success. But with my mind stretched and vulnerable it found its way through my bullshit detector and was stabbing at my sensitive underbelly. that is. tapes and 15 . my profile. but they nevertheless found page space and were read by thousands. I was troubled so I spoke with Peter about it one night in the bar of the Malmaison Hotel. At any other time I probably would have left the slander where it belonged – in the bin. But I was handling it OK. The nature of the letters – very personal and derogatory – were both unjustified and unfair.

He is largely responsible for the success I enjoy in the martial arts today. what had started out as a gentle pastime. Apparently it had become more important that his health and his sanity. it’s not starving children in Africa. Just before one of the major championships. his life. nay ruined. his family. He told me that he was watching television one day and happened to catch a news story about a professional angler who appeared on TV regularly and had won a lot of major championships.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD seminars. ‘It’s just carp fishing. it had become everything. his home.’ This guy had become so engrossed in his sport that. but what he did say was that the guy became so worried/angry/ incensed and stressed about the accusation that he became depressed. It was more important to him than his wife. split up with his wife and even lost his home. Peter told me how he’d watched the story unfold on television and. it’s carp fishing!’ I said (more than a little confused). It’s carp fishing. it’s not war in the Middle East. started taking medication. ‘Geoff. Peter listened intently. It’s not cancer. nodded wisely (as he does) and said. had actually become his whole world. 16 . ‘Carp fishing?’ Peter explained. Now Peter didn’t say whether our man was guilty or innocent. he was accused of using illegal bait. thought to himself. He’d been riding the high-tide of success when something happened that changed. dumfounded.

Geoff. His father said. is the fact that the criticism I was receiving. an individual. and a few letters. 17 . It is very difficult for the eyes to see clearly what the mind has got completely out of focus. ‘It’s one man. while he was one of the faceless multitude that liked to jeer from the bleachers because they were too scared to step into the ring. We focus on them so intently that we lose our valuable sense of perspective. It was an opinion.’ What I learned from this valuable lesson is that we often take ourselves and our problems way too seriously. As Peter said to me. His father asked him. someone who was probably very angry because I was out there doing it. and what has stayed with me ever since.CARP FISHING What Peter pointed out to me. It’s not life and death. and as we should all know. mountains can often be (or appear to be) insurmountable. ‘Then you don’t really have a problem.’ This reminded me of another friend who went to see his father – a war veteran – for advise about a problem he was having. ‘Is someone going to kill you?’ My friend said no. was just carp fishing. and when this happens molehills quickly start becoming mountains. And an opinion from some yokel who had never stepped into the arena himself. far from being important. about not letting things become bigger than they really are. I suppose what I am trying to say is that it’s all about perspective.

in no time at all. 18 . not them kind). I watched in awe as these leathery-faced. even when the fishermen removed the lid. salty men of the sea lowered a mesh basket onto the ocean bed and. rather I was disturbed by the fact that they did not crawl back out again. After a few minutes it became clear to me why.Chapter 3 Catching Crabs I watched a documentary when I was younger about how fishermen catch crabs (no. caught a couple of unlikely crabs that crawled in via a small hole in the lid and made their first (inadvertent) steps from basket to crabstick. Eventually the basket filled to the brim with crustaceans. yet still they didn’t try to escape. What fascinated me most was not that they had crawled into what seemed an obvious trap.

‘What do you want to leave for?’ they would ask patronisingly. It’s safe.’ Similarly. I’d been there six years. The old guy. her face turned rolled-in-flour white.’ Then came the coup de grâce: ‘There’s no security out there. ‘You haven’t given it a chance! You’ve only been here five minutes. ‘But what will we do? What if we don’t make the mortgage? What if it doesn’t work out? What if… ’ It usually only took a few ‘what if ’s’ to get my blood boiling. my peers. thought for a second. had pulled me back again. claws raised.’ I’d whine. went straight to work.’ he said without hesitation. you know!’ ‘But I hate it here. tired of the unchanging replies. ‘I hate the place. I was amazed! I was watching my life’s metaphor.) ‘So how long have you been here then?’ I asked one day. the other crabs (the blighters) pulled him back in again. face like a walnut. Every time I had ever tried to leave a bad job and break away. like the crabs. ‘Oh about thirty years. on the offensive.’ ‘And what do you think of it?’ ‘It’s crap.CATCHING CRABS Every time a crab tried to crawl out of the trap.’ came the usual response. ‘This is a steady job. (In fact. The old crab. 19 . when I told my (ex) wife that I wanted to leave my steady job at the chemical factory.

HP payments. only to be thwarted by a faulty internal dialogue that was stronger than my will to continue. And the longer I stayed the more glue I got stuck in. Self-depreciation became part of my inner core. three children. so many things that kept me glued to a job I hated. but I had allowed others to convince me that 20 . I could never think of anything else I wanted to do other than write. I used to sit in the works canteen in the dead of night when everyone else was tucked up in bed and think. Even today. I noticed that. Many times I picked up my biro in a fit of inspiration to write my way out of the factory by penning (what I dreamed would be) the next bestseller. 20-years on. a mortgage. I had a family. I’d been pulled back so many times in my life that I too felt disheartened. it was drowned by the voices of my inner crabs. The moment an entrepreneurial thought entered my mind. So the pen would be discarded and replaced by bicycle clips and a ride to the factory for a night shift that I abhorred. the very thought of that long ride still inspires a depression that reminds me how grateful I am to have found a way out. after being pulled back a few times. the disheartened crabs not only stopped trying to escape but they also joined the other crabs in pulling back those that did try. a cat and a Raleigh Racer.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD As I watched the documentary. ‘What can I do to get out of this nightmare?’ I felt so trapped.

CATCHING CRABS I was dreaming and that this was not a real option. Monday-to-Friday life of oil and grime. I convinced myself. But. If I put my heart and soul into doing something. after my usual session of Sunday-evening bitching. Then one night. my wife did something unprecedented. leave the city. it wasn’t my fault. I was up to my kneecaps in the brown stuff out of choice. nothing and no one would be able to stop me. told me to shut my moaning gob and get a job that I did like if I was so unhappy. Blaming others was my way of hiding from my own fear. I realised at this point – looking in the mirror not at a hard-done-by 20-something but at a frightened youth – that if I didn’t want to stay in a job. if I really wanted to leave the factory. She gave me her permission. even leave the country for that matter. even mountains would crumble. Well. She retracted her claws. My nightmarish employment was no more her fault than it was the fault of the old timers at the factory or my peers. I nearly fell over with the shock. Those around me only stopped me from climbing out of the basket because I let them. I was stuck in the factory because my wife wouldn’t let me leave. believed it could be done and had a little faith in my own power. That was when the realisation hit me like a hefty tax bill. She wasn’t holding me back at all. 21 . The fault was entirely mine. I resigned myself to a nine-to-five.

I snatched back my free will. This was my world. my incarnation. I climbed out of the basket. exciting and scary. Shortly after the shock of this realisation. A few years later my mates were all made redundant from the secure ‘job-for-life’ in the factory. Me. 22 . I have never looked back. I could and would handle it. It was brilliant. so many places to go. I made a decision. I left my steady job of seven years and entered the real world of opportunity and excitement. So much to do. I realised that the only security I needed was the knowledge that no matter what happened. I could be anything.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD I could do anything.

even if. ‘What the hell does that mean?’): ‘Be careful what you wish for because you might just get it. and why so many settle for second best when the whole world is open to them. To me.’ I heard this saying many years ago and sort of innately knew what it meant. I have been thinking a lot of late about why people don’t succeed in life. at the time. I 23 . it meant that you should be careful when practising manifestation (the art of manifesting your desires and intentions) because it is an awesomely potent force that works. but getting what you want comes with a price tag. That price tag is change. You will get what you steadfastly wish for. I could neither articulate it nor act upon it.Chapter 4 Change Chaser Have you ever heard the saying (and thought.

even permanent disorientation. Fewer still have the bottle to take on this danger. He said that we should. the out-worn. the worn-out and the redundant. Why do we fear this seemingly insignificant word? Because ‘change’ translated means death. face it and chase it. go out and. ‘Be the change we want to see. I have witnessed so many people stand at the doorway to greatness only to balk and pull back at the last minute because. we should not just sit and wait for the clammy grip of inevitability. they realised that success was not just a change of job title or an award or more zeroes in the bank. This change can cause temporary. Only very few people in society really get this.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD realised that the main reason for failure is not fear of failure but rather fear of success. Change is a word often bandied about with a flippancy that does not convey its potential for danger. Death of the old.’ In other words. a complete change of who you are. Change is the one thing that we as a species tend to fear the most. we should not cower in a hole hoping that somehow change might pass us 24 . on looking through. rather than run from the change. Change chasers are the leaders of this world. Gandhi had a radical suggestion regarding change. rather success was and is (often) a complete change of identity.

be the change. take on the odds and challenge change to take its best shot. we see the birth of the butterfly.CHANGE CHASER by on its perpetual sweep of the universe. The good news is that whilst change might mean death. When the caterpillar emerges from its chrysalis. to cower and hide from the inevitable or to be brave and be the inevitable. There is as much freedom in acceptance of change as there is pain in resisting change. It is the only constant. It has to die to the old before it can be born to the new. birth of the new. bang on our bag gloves. it just as certainly means birth. We should anticipate change and be on its crest as the great wave comes in. you de-fang it. Change is going to happen anyway whether you like it or not. get into the fray and out of the spectator stands. Death of the old. 25 . an exciting and empowering third option. So you have a choice. They are the opposite sides of the same coin. It suggests that we should put in our gum shields. if you live the change. how can you fear the change? How can you fear what you are? It is not change that hurts. But our free will. to garner our courage and be the constant. God’s great gift to mankind. If you be the change you want to see you take away its sting. if you are the change. You can’t have one without the other. If you can be the change. offers us a choice. only our resistance to it. ride it and use its latent and innate power to drive us.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Have a look at your life right now. What changes are you hiding from? Which fears are pinning you down? What would you really love to do but at the same time fear to do? Why not empower yourself today and turn the tables on change by stepping out to meet it? You might be surprised to find a brand-new shiny you just waiting to shapeshift and emerge. 26 .

Chapter 5 Easy Amongst other things.’ they say. Perhaps for the ignorant and the inexperienced it seems easy. It is what I do. Writing is easy. I love it. I write films for a living. But easy? I don’t think so. but then everything is easy in hypothesis. I have found that those who have yet to live up to their own standards will employ any available excuse to keep their pen and paper in different rooms rather than write the blockbuster they keep threatening to produce. 27 . ‘he writes all day. Perhaps it seems easy from the sidelines but then everything is easy from the spectator’s stand. It’s easy. It must be because it is all I hear people say these days. ‘Geoff doesn’t do a real job.’ Really? Writing is my passion.

Overnight!’ So far I have been on this film for 12 years. Some of the early critique bordered on abusive. This is important. a saint’s patience and the tenacity of a Titan. Every major film company in Britain turned it down several times. of course. People said. Let me give you an example of how easy my job is.) It was that attitude that helped me get the book onto The Sunday Times bestseller list. I have lost count of the amount of drafts I’ve written. and the only way I stayed afloat was to use that criticism to give me drive. If people keep thinking that success (in any field) is easy.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD When I was ignorant and inexperienced I did and said exactly the same. My first film went into production in January 2007. Everyone said. (I’ll fucking show you.’ It was turned down by more companies than I care to remember. In this industry that is not unusual. If Sharon hadn’t insisted I keep trying. It 28 . (One of my films has been turned down by 75 different financers. they will be ill-prepared when reality smacks them between the eyes with demands for a steel fixer’s work ethic. It hurt.) When I wrote my book Watch My Back it was a similar story. ‘It happened so quickly. I fear I might have taken the advice that I kept getting and thrown it in the bin. ‘Who wants to read a book about a Coventry bouncer? Leave your number in the bin.

I loved it. It weathered me like an old oak. No one has it easy. too harsh. Natasha Carlish. 29 . had been done before. knock-backs and criticism have helped me to develop a sinewy self-belief and a self-reliance that is so muscular it has its own respiratory system. All the rebuttals. Brown Paper Bag did not attract any financing at all. so we (the producer. No one thought it was good enough to finance. and I) financed it ourselves. of course. I could go on but I think the point it clear. the producer and Neil Thompson. who re-mortgaged her house for the film. The film that won the BAFTA. It was too bleak.EASY helped me write a stage play that had a national tour. but… I liked it. No one wanted to make it. Life is difficult. It is difficult when you feel that you are not getting any encouragement. the director) over two million pounds in finance. I developed an iron resolve. Then I wrote a feature film and raised (with Martin Carr. a BAFTA and entry into over thirty international festivals. The many rebuttals tempered and energised me. But difficult is a necessary pre-requisite to success. It helped me write a short film that attracted international film stars.

He told me that he was going to give up writing because the film world was (in his words) ‘biased. judgmental and a bastard to boot.’ as he saw it) all rather personally and was struggling to carry on. He was in bits. He’d applied for money from a local screen agency to produce a film he had written and they had returned his script with a rebuttal and a list of notes on how unprepared they thought he and his work were. behind the times.’ 30 . My friend had taken the critique (or the ‘beasting. The critique (he felt) was so scathing that it made his eyes water. I have been there so often that I‘ve actually developed bark over my exterior to help weather the critical storms. I knew the feeling.Chapter 6 Everest A friend wrote to me.

he chose to see it as personal insult rather than qualified critique. It is tough at the high end of any business. chunks of hardship can be moulded into the building blocks of strong character. and bad films seem to be more the norm than the exception. With a slight change in perception. one of many I presume (in this very subjective and very demanding business.EVEREST This knock-back. in shape and filmable. had all but floored him. after all. He felt his work was ready. rebuttal comes with the everyday post). His email reminded me of a documentary I’d watched on TV and I told him about it in the hopes that it might inspire him to carry on. It can be soul destroying. but you can’t by-pass it. Adversity and advance are synonymous and. but when the experienced industry folks advised him that it wasn’t (not yet). it was the north wind that made the Vikings. I tried to advise him that what he was experiencing was film-making (certainly it was a big part of the process) and that he should get used to it. because it is unlikely to get easier as you climb higher. where millions are lost on bad films. 31 . not least film-making. despite his set-back. sometimes it’s boot-in-the-bollocks painful. My friend was attempting to ascend the Everest that is making a movie but struggling (and bitching about – please don’t bitch about) the altitude.

And the higher you go (as in life) the thinner the air gets.’ Because on the mountain the air is thin. This is why on the higher echelons of Everest (and of life) there are very few people. although this man had been told many times in his preparations that the air on Everest was thin and that it would make progress slow and breathing difficult. Now. he could run a fast marathon. He thought that this would be enough. It wasn’t until he actually found himself on the mountain.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD The film was about a super-fit man who wanted to climb Everest. that is. that he realised his stamina fell short of the mark. Until. he trained his body to perfection until he was all sinew and muscle. What he hadn’t prepared for (what you can’t really prepare for) was the actuality of being (as the Everest stalwarts are fond of saying) ‘on the mountain. Even helicopters fall out of the sky in these higher altitudes because the spinning blades can’t find purchase. he never really heeded the council. To make his dream a reality. lift heavy weights and captain his body and mind through the most excruciating physical workouts. 32 . on day one when his chest was as tight as a fat kid’s school shirt and he couldn’t catch his breath. His training was good. meticulous even. at base camp. The lack of air makes breathing – even for the fittest athletes – difficult.

that he couldn’t breathe properly and they duly advised him (and reminded him) that. Not being able to breathe was not normal for him. The higher you go the less there is. If you want more air climb a smaller fucking mountain.’ Patiently the message was reiterated. ‘you don’t understand. ‘Look.’ And here endeth the lesson. ‘No. He bitched so much that in the end one of the climbers pulled him to one side and said (very firmly). It’s a high mountain. ‘There is very little air on the mountain. He was fit. ‘Listen! We’re on Everest. As much as his companions tried to reassure him that the way he was feeling ‘was normal’ (one climber said. this is the norm.’ I am always trying to reach higher peaks and often 33 .’ Again. I am conditioned. the neophyte climber would not have any of it. There is no air. I need to hear it sometimes. The inability to be able to get your lungs full is normal. if you wake up in the morning feeling shit when you’re on the mountain. all experienced climbers. He was convinced that his breathlessness was an early sign of some mysterious mountain illness. he complained. when you are on the mountain. I’m a fit man. I need to be told every now and then to ‘stop the bitching and get on with it. I should be able to breathe easier.’ he insisted. it’s a good day’).EVEREST He complained to his companions.

the inadequate industry support. the lack of help. It always gets me psyched up.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD find myself ready throw in the towel. And if that means less air (I haven’t got much ’air anyway). Then I remind myself of this story. complaining about the discomfort. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to climb small mountains. I want to ascend into the clouds with the legends. then so be it. back on my feet and moving. 34 .

Chapter 7 Everything that Happens to Me is Good I heard it the other day and it made me smile. Someone said (with a hint of a scorn and a peppering of self-pity). he lives a charmed life.) I. as though I was somehow impervious to the slings and arrows of life. He said this like nothing bad has ever happened to me. He has had it so easy. etc. He told me that his lack of commercial success was due to the fact that he has had so many things block his path (poor health. tilted a similar lance in my direction. 35 . had succeeded only because I’d had it so easy. so much so that I went and made myself a cup of tea. a fellow writer. ‘That Geoff Thompson bloke.’ Another friend. family issues. on the other hand.

He was a good man. how to live bravely. He has left me with a great legacy of love and very valuable lessons. disliked by none. Let me try and explain. not because nothing bad has ever happened to me. I do live a charmed life and I have had it easy. He was loved by many.m. rather because everything that has happened to me has been good. But he has finished his brief sojourn on this spinning globe and now he is home. it is cause for celebration. My lovely dad died recently. It was his time and I was pleased that he finally got to graduate from this hard university we call life. It found its way into his bones.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD I have to come clean though.’ It was a long day. And that is not just good. A five-minute journey to the hospital took a lifetime and when I arrived all the doctors could tell me was. It broke my heart to see him suffering so much whilst he was ill. One of my gorgeous babies took an overdose of pain killers when she was 18 years old. Then he died. ‘We won’t know until tomorrow. He had cancer. how to die with dignity. I couldn’t even talk on the phone without breaking down. He was right. I got the five a. phone call and my heavy heart bled. It was good. It was an even longer night. My dad lived a good life. They were all right. 36 .

well. What happened to my daughter saddened me beyond words. of course. not her sisters. I have never felt such profound love for anyone as I felt for Ray during his five fast days of slow dying. ‘We are sorry she is here but this is the only way we could get her out.’ I said. so much so that the love affair killed him. not her mum – could break her out. When he died. but what happened to my daughter was good. you can guess the rest. It was not 37 . ‘What’s happened to my daughter is the best thing that could have happened. My brother died violently. But my brother loved the drink and the drink loved my brother. She recovered. Drink was his armoury and life was his enemy and.’ My girl had fallen into a dark and loveless chasm where even the voices of her kin could not be heard. she went to university and met a nice guy who was appreciative of her beauty and sensitive nature.’ I trusted that this was true and it was.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Someone said. it was not me he called out for. a small voice (somewhere in my consciousness) said to me. ‘Terrible what’s happened to your daughter. She is now happy and training to be a teacher. He was bloated and yellow and ravaged and… so very beautiful. When she lay in that hospital bed. There was more to it than that. She was in a relationship that was imprisoning and dangerously destructive and none of us – not me. I loved his very bones.

What is happening obviously needs to happen. I have another family member who is dangerously ill. It was difficult. I felt privileged that he chose me to watch his back as he left this life for the next. I was with Ray as his decaying body buckled and bled and closed down. nor my dad’s. For that reason alone. My brother’s death was good. They will (they have and will again) save others. It is her life. It is her story. That is ultimately where we are all heading. The lessons he taught me – both good and bad – I pass on. 38 . It is her journey and it is good because all journeys lead home. My close family and I are forced to stand by and watch this slow decline because we can’t save someone who will not be saved. another alcoholic that shared his oblivious and sad existence. He cried out the name of his drinking companion. It was one of the most harrowing experiences of my life. What happened to my beautiful brother has informed everything I do. nor the names of any of his four heartbroken children. It was also one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. The friend that passed the bottle in long days of hard drinking was very human and very broken and he loved my brother. The illness is self-inflicted. It is her body. I loved him.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD my mother’s name that bounced and echoed off the hospital walls. everything I write about and everything I think. But it was good. It is her soul.

lessons that are as profound as they are stark and reference points that add an empirical wisdom to every new situation that I bring upon myself. Very good. in-fight and post-fight have all been excruciatingly good. Each of these. each concussive stamp and each spitting invective has been… uncomfortable.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD I also have my own story. I am left with the residual ache of remorse. You don’t just do that shit and walk away without debt. physically. mentally and spiritually. The trail follows you until you find the courage to turn and face it and take the consequences. however. So it has all been good. I also fucked around. It was all good. No self-pity here. 39 . more beautiful place. In my former incarnation as a man of lower consciousness. betrayed my ex-wife. fenced stolen goods and hurt my kids with my thoughtless actions. a better. especially my back-story. guilt. I carry the karma of the hundreds of guys that I fucked up on nightclub doors when I worked as a bouncer. represented a step on the ladder of consciousness that has delivered me to where I am now. It has been hard to forgive myself. My actions spawned ten years of karmic residue that have brought me sadness. self-hate. self-harm and illness. Re-living each teeth-smashing boot to the face. lost my integrity. No regrets. stole. The pre-fight. We all have to atone. Much of it does not make easy reading.

And when folks say. neither will I complain because it will all be good. Because I know they’re right. So. I do. The road of excess (as the poet William Blake said) leads to the palace of wisdom. 40 . ‘That Geoff Thompson bloke. he’s got it so easy. Every excess I indulged produced a lesson so painful. I will continue to drink my tea. so profound.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD The experiences that fell into the realms of excess have been especially good. Although I vow never to repeat these dark experiences. Everything that happens to me is. so earth-moving that it permeated my whole consciousness. I know that life will continue to proffer some of its own. if in life’s next instruction I find myself revisiting those shadowy places. I will do my very best to neither spin nor toil. It does have a habit of providing the hammer.’ I will continue to smile. anvil and furnace to temper every blade.

eyes start to roll and conversational exits are surreptitiously sought? Is it. I admit. do you think. Instead I 41 . Thus if spirituality came into the conversation I followed the norm and patronisingly ‘eye-rolled’ with the rest of the sheep. I’ve always had a deep interest in the spiritual. during my woolly mammoth period as a bouncer it was buried beneath the fear of looking like a twat in front of my mates.Chapter 8 Forgiveness: the Healthy Option Have you ever noticed that when you mention things of a spiritual nature. Though. because the idea of seeking something unseen is completely at odds with today’s bodyobsessed culture? Myself. Now that I am a little more self-assured I don’t need the kind of conditional security that the ‘norm’ offers.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD look to developing a deep-rooted internal security that is as steadfast as it is empowering. Oh. And yet when we examine the world in which we live. One of the hardest lessons I learned en route was the capacity to forgive. sinewy mentality. looking good. surface mastery – hitting hard. but I’ll never 42 . It appears that we can’t even forgive ourselves for stupid mistakes made on our own journey through life. pumping ‘cerebral iron’ to build a deep. We claim to love those close to us yet we can’t forgive our brother for a ten-year-old error in judgement. They say that forgiveness is good for the soul. ‘I’ll forgive you. lifting heavy weights. nor our neighbour for a minor misdemeanour. we see that there are many people preaching forgiveness. when we closely examine our own lives. building muscle – I now labour from the inside out. or our sister for some wrong she inflicted upon us last year. Where I once toiled for shallow. It is the doctrinal mainstay of just about every religious icon – from the Nazarene right through to Mahatma Gandhi – who has ever walked the earth. but very few actually putting it into practise. sometimes we feign forgiveness with the anaemic proclamation. We can’t forgive the foreman for the way he treats us on the factory floor. And we definitely can’t exonerate ex-lovers for using us as a spousal punch-bag.

We also have a great tendency to rationalise our blame with inane remarks like. that’s a horse of a different colour. This has a catastrophic effect upon our physiology. There is no great feat of strength in carrying the carcass of a long-dead argument. Holding a grudge is easy. ‘Yea. You can do it without even trying. Your contentious thought is registered by the mid-brain 43 . as though it were a great virtue.FORGIVENESS: THE HEALTHY OPTION forget!’ Or the equally unconvincing. Our failure to pardon manifests a resentment that grows with the passing of time. discipline and great understanding in order to forgive. but you don’t know what she did to me. It is not virtuous. To forgive! Now then. Our lack of forgiveness is killing us – literally. It becomes an internal time bomb of bitterness triggered and perpetuated by every unforgiving gesture. ‘I’ll never completely forgive you!’ But you can no sooner ‘partially’ forgive than you can ‘partially’ fall out of a tree. I believe it is a great weakness of the human spirit that forgiveness is not more widely practised. You either do or you do not.’ We even seem perversely proud of ourselves when we don’t forgive. a physiological fight-or-flight. Every time the grudge is replayed like an old movie in our mind’s eye it activates the release of stress hormones into the blood stream. I can’t forgive her. It takes strength.

therefore. It is already estimated that the majority of all contemporary illness finds its roots in stress.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD as a physical threat. even death. your body actually relives them too. if you like.’ This exercise is not so much a means of helping others (though 44 . This means that someone who insulted you ten-years ago. adequately defend the body against infiltrating viral and cancerous cells. But – and here’s where the problems start – because the unforgiving thought is not physical threat but simply a reminiscence. under those circumstances. the best way to stop people from hurting you is to forgive them. This is what author Charles Handy would call ‘proper selfishness. lungs. Even brain cells are killed by rogue stress hormones. bladder and bowel. So every time you relive past upsets (because you can’t put them to bed with a heavy dose of forgiveness). is still insulting you today – and you’re letting them! Logically. acting like a toxic bath for the soft internal muscles like the heart. as though for the very first time. behavioural fight-or-flight is not activated. intestines. who you haven’t forgiven. We do not. run or fight for our lives so all those redundant stress hormones lay dormant in our bodies. a saber-toothed tiger. and you have a recipe for disaster. Add to this the fact that your immune system is greatly impaired by the stress response and can’t.

I also felt empowered. I am ashamed to admit that I was very proud of my collection of grudges and perennially laid them out on the table like favoured collectibles. I felt as light as the proverbial feather. and for several years. ‘I will never forgive.’ When I finally realised what I was doing to myself. or more specifically. I even try to forgive proactively before they even do anything to upset me. Forgive 45 . In my experience. Many people feel that forgiveness is a weakness and this discourages them from any active practise. Like most things in life it is better to start small and build up. I often bragged to others that. Every time I thought about my past tormentors I could literally feel the stress hormones going to work. forgiveness is the shield and sword of the gods. I didn’t realise that I was on a downwards spiral to ill-health.FORGIVENESS: THE HEALTHY OPTION this too can be healthy) as it is a means of helping yourself. In my younger days. I instantly let go of the past and forgave those who I had been carrying for so long.’ and ‘one day I might even seek revenge. I held many grudges. Now I always make a point of forgiving people when they upset my apple cart. Once you forgive a person you stop carrying them. It is a great strength that should be nurtured in all people. working as a nightclub bouncer. what I was letting others do to me. Forgiveness needs to be localised.

As far as health and fitness is concerned. Start with yourself. forgive yourself and move on. What ever they are. start with a little forgiveness. 46 . So if you want to stay fit for life. forgiveness is cathartic. an internal cleansing that is an integral piece of the longevity jigsaw.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD the small things and gradually build up to the big ones. We all have skeletons in our closets.

Chapter 9 Goals People often talk about success. ‘To the top of what?’ Ill-defined or vague goals need to be crystallised and put in print if they stand any chance at all of making it from fiction to fact. They want to ‘make it’ but struggle to define the vital ‘it’ part of the equation. I always find myself asking. each and every student was asked their views on a number of topics relating to the university. 47 . In a famous survey carried out in 1953 at Yale University. neither is likely to transcend reverie without a little more detail and conviction. I admire those that aim for the top. what they thought of the campus. the library. People want success but they don’t know what in.’ Whilst goals are good and dreams are the stuff of life. the staff. about ‘making it’ and ‘getting to the top. however.

This time. rather than pose the same set of questions to the current crop of final-year students. was the follow-up survey some twenty years later when Yale repeated the exercise. ‘How did your life turn out?’ Amazingly. The four per cent were also financially independent. in their community and financial affairs. you’ll probably agree. In fact. But not enough to write home to mum about.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD and the lecturers. their relationships. between them 48 . They were outstandingly different from everyone else surveyed. even disappointing. What was interesting. ‘If you have goals. the four per cent who had written down their goals were all hugely successful. life itself) was posed. in their health. It was agreed. Even their opinions on the campus canteen were sought. and after much globetrotting research the majority of those surveyed twenty years before were found and asked. Interesting. ‘Do you have goals?’ This question was followed by. One of the most intriguing questions asked of the final-year students was. even disturbing. do you write them down?’ Only ten per cent of those surveyed actually had goals and of these only a minute four per cent said they actually wrote their goals down. Every imaginable question about life at Yale (and in fact. they decided to throw a bit of currency at the project and find all the people from the original survey of 1953 to see if their youthful aspirations had come to fruition.

GOALS they were worth more than all the other 96 per cent – those who did not write down their goals – put together. Rather than make these sacrifices and actively seek out their dreams. They wait for providence and fortune to show them favour. But the millions seldom come to those who do not develop the millionaire mentality. And if you want them badly enough you’ll make that extra commitment to write them down. So if you have a goal what you have to ask yourself is: 49 . Income and lifestyle rarely exceed personal development. commitment and sacrifice. the majority sit waiting for success to come to them – and for free. The word ‘goal’ is tumbling from the motivational lips of just about every success guru from Deepak Chopra to Anthony Robbins. But what most sellers of success fail to mention is the fact that success (in whatever form you would like it) comes at a price. Goals cost and for those of us unable or unwilling to pay. What this should tell you is that having life goals is not just important. but about time. It makes them official. You need a definite destination. And I am not necessarily talking about money. risk. fulfilment is rarely forthcoming. How can you ever get there if you don’t even know where ‘there’ is? If you have ever read a motivational book you’ll probably know this already. If you don’t have them. you don’t get them. it is fundamental. And they are right.

You have to get your eating down to a fine art. Why? Because the 95 per cent are not prepared to become the type of person they need to be to get a beach physique.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Am I prepared to pay the price and become the type of person it will take to get my goal? I look at my friend Glenn. then have the discipline and the staying power to stick to it without deviating to the island of cake. if necessary). To build a body like Glenn you have to make sacrifices and develop a powerful will that’ll resist the Friday-night pissup/Saturday-morning fry-up scenario that follows a working week at the computer. And to show your commitment that goal needs to be written down and deadlined (time limits can be extended or shortened. But of all the people that come to the gym looking to achieve a similar body. They don’t want to pay the price. He is in fabulous physical shape. lots of sinewy muscle and no fat (don’t you just hate that?) He’s ripped like a skinless chicken. You need to set a course from where you are to where you would like to be. But very few make it because the journey 50 . To get ‘cut-up from the gut-up’ you need to chart the right course. Diet – the ultimate discipline – is the pre-requisite of a good physique. or the port of beer-and-curry. probably only five per cent ever end up looking like Glenn. for instance. He has the kind of rippling torso that most men dream of seeing reflected back at them in the bathroom mirror.

Certainly the early stages are difficult when you have to change a 25-year-old cakeand-cookie habit and replace it with a high-protein/ low-fat regime. Next on the course is the training. but I only know one or two with anything like a good shape. This is usually because they inadvertently set the wrong course and end up at the wrong destination. Some kid themselves that they can take out the bits they don’t like (usually diet) and still make their destination. working on the finer points and setting the right course. But a hard workout is not just about the sweat and strain. I know a million people that workout. I’d watched good judo players perform the move a thousand times. Whenever I go to the gym I see people sweating their way around the free-weights and machines. making all the right noises. or even worse. You might be working extremely hard but are you working in the right direction? I remember the time I wanted to develop a brilliant osoto-gari (a throwing technique in judo).GOALS is too arduous. back where they started.’ People set courses all the time and still fail to reach their goal. I’d seen detailed illustrations in books and even watched demonstrations of the throw on 51 . It’s about the detail. ‘Set a course to where you want to go and you’ll get there. Setting the right course It is easy to say.

So make sure that you set the right course and be prepared for the sacrifices that the journey demands. The danger of goals Goals are essential. I practised osoto-gari thousands of times. in altering one or two minor points. but my course was off. The destination was set. He knew the right way to do osoto-gari. Then I went to train with Neil Adams (Olympic silver medallist in judo). He knew the right course. Consequently. I have always prided myself on being a tenacious – even obsessive – trainer. I practised hard and daily. I got it.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD instructional videos. because I had been given the right map and wanted to get there badly enough. he altered my entire course. In fact. to destruction in fact. If you don’t know the way. You could be the hardest worker in the world. And hey. we’ve established this much. And writing the goal down with an expected time of 52 . ask the right people. I rarely pulled the throw off. With my limited knowledge I set about achieving my goal. presto. I reached my goal in record time. when I sparred with other players. Never mistake activity for progress. but still fail because you are hacking away in the wrong jungle. but I was practising it wrong. it only has to be slightly out for you to end up completely wrong. He looked at my technique and. I became brilliant at doing osoto-gari the wrong way. those who are already where you want to be.

’ he always told me. He set himself a goal of five miles. it was double his usual distance. we nearly always do.GOALS arrival is as pivotal as setting the right course. He made five miles but at the final furlong the lad was exhausted. but a common attitude nevertheless. one of his friends at the running club. He didn’t think he could run ten miles. we hit low. My friend Steve is a keen runner. 53 . Sometimes we aim low and. He asked Steve to take his place. ‘I’m being realistic. risk of success and risk of change – there is also a hidden risk: Goals can be dangerous. So what’s the danger in that? The danger occurs when we don’t set our goals high enough. The next week. He set five miles on his internal clock and his body fuelled him up for exactly that. The other day he went out for a jog. I might not make it. But as well as all the obvious risks of aiming high – the risk of failure. had to pull out of a ten-mile race. By four-and-a-half miles he was flagging and every step was an effort. Small goals are fine when they act as stepping-stones to higher ideals. Dave. when we fully intend with all our heart to achieve them. but they can be very unsatisfactory in themselves.’ Not the sort of mindset that smashes records. I think you’ll agree. When we set goals. Steve was unsure. I know I can do five. If I try for more. ‘But. guess what. He was capable of more.

I would say. He is now preparing for his first marathon. a historical strong man whose life goal was to carry a full-grown bull on his shoulders. So aim higher than you think you can manage. If you set your sights too low your body and mind will fuel you accordingly.’ said his friends. ‘Watch this space. killed the ten miles and had a great time doing it. ‘just set your sights on ten. implementing standards that are just beyond our reach does. He injected necessity and the organism grew to compensate.’ Had Steve gone from a five-mile jog to the London marathon (26 miles) he might well have written a cheque that the bank could not honour. but he knew he was not burly enough to carry a full-grown bull. Setting achievable goals does not push and stretch our limits. ‘Impossible.’ Steve ran the race. Milo the Great There is a wonderful story about Milo the Great. Paradoxically. So instead of making his way to the nearest 54 . If you can’t finish it’s not the end of the world. ‘Oh yea?’ he replied.’ Dave said.’ Milo was strong both mentally and physically. ‘Don’t set your sights so high on the first shot that you become overwhelmed. but not so high you lose sight of your goal.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD ‘Don’t worry.

It could be anything. You could use the same principle to buy your dream house. Many people have bought fabulous homes by 55 . you don’t have to pick up the bull right away. you should allow your growth to be gradual and organic. picking up the bull was done in pyramidic stages. a college degree or a promotion at work. rather it might be your business. By picking up the bull as it grew. he went out and bought himself a calf and kept it in his back garden. Every day Milo would go out into the yard and – after a little warm-up – lift the calf onto his shoulders and walk around with it. Perhaps your goal is to buy your dream house (with a bull-sized mortgage). and subsequently pyramiding his own strength to match. For Milo. he grew with the bull.GOALS farmer’s field and trying to winch a horned beast onto his back. Instead. as the calf matured and fattened. He used short-term goals (picking up the calf every day) to power him towards his long-term ideal. Day by day. build your business or increase your fitness level. Your bull may not be a hairy creature with horns and a nose-ring (sounds like a girl I once dated). Eventually. Like Milo. Milo – to the astonishment of all – could carry the full-grown bull on his shoulders. His legs expanded in width and strength and his torso transformed into the shape of a door wedge. Milo’s strength grew to compensate. It isn’t always advisable to try.

Mountaineers do this to allow themselves recuperation and acclimatisation to new heights. acclimatise and then. I’m not saying that this is the only way. Some people crumble when danger comes aboard. They make their way first to a base camp. Others thrive on it. It is all done in pyramidic steps. Goal pyramid You could even build a goal pyramid to chart your steps from short-term to long-term goals.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD using the calf/bull principle. on bad days they may not even leave the tent. aiming to climb x amount of metres by nightfall. when the weather is clement. It’s all down to how much risk you can take. 56 . It can be done. perhaps) to move up the property ladder towards their dream cottage in the country. they may (and often do) exceed their quota. they scale to the summit of the mountain. climb up more than one rung at a time. When they get within reach of the top they rest. then step by step. You can jump steps. They set themselves daily goals. acclimatise. they attempt the peak. eat. but when you do the risk rises proportionately. If conditions are favourable. They buy a small house. Hard work? No harder than working your doo-daas off with no goal in mind. sell it and use the profit (plus their savings.

As the dinner sizes decreased. the Tin Man needs a heart 57 . worried about his health. as you might imagine.GOALS I remember my mum using this principle to help my dad lose weight. in their achievement – arriving at our destination is secondary. He was carrying a belt-busting belly that was getting unhealthy (and unsightly) but he wouldn’t hear of going on a diet. The adversity of a hard climb is what forges character. the tenacity. Dorothy and her troupe of mates are seeking a common ideal – the Wizard. The greatest benefit of setting and achieving goals is the skills. The real value of setting goals is not. Dorothy wants to get back home to Kansas. It was so gradual he hardly noticed. the information and the leadership qualities you’ll develop along the way. Your whole world will change immeasurably for the better as a consequence. a man who (they believe) can help them to achieve their individual goals. My mum. Follow the Yellow Brick Road In the film The Wizard of Oz. His selfdiscipline wasn’t up to the job. the discipline. the Cowardly Lion wants to find courage. gradually started to cut the size of his dinner down a tiny bit at a time and over a long period. the weight fell off him. Before he knew it he was eating light and healthy meals and looking and feeling good.

in actuality they have. The Wizard reluctantly keeps his word. Each of them believes that the Wizard will simply give them. What he can and does do is give them the means to achieve their dreams. I’m melting’) they return to Oz. flying monkeys. the Tin Man a heart-shaped watch. He can’t. the Cowardly Lion develops courage by facing his fears and protecting his friends against the witch and her army of mad. He sends them on a hunt and promises to help them when they return. But he doesn’t. through their journey – first to Oz and then to kill the witch – earned it through their own efforts. On the journey. The Scarecrow develops his brain by working out intricate game plans to find and then escape the witch. symbols of their courageous quest. What the Wizard gives them amounts to little more than trinkets. He gives the Cowardly Lion a medal of valour. 58 . Their real goal started to manifest when they committed themselves fully to the task and agreed to pay the toll and take the risks. their dream. The Tin Man develops a heart through a multitude of kind and charitable acts. After accidentally killing the Wicked Witch of the West (‘I’m melting. Whilst each believes they have been given their goal free of charge.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD and the Scarecrow is desperate for a brain. free of charge. the Scarecrow a university diploma and Dorothy the knowledge that the power to return home was in her all along.

long-term objective from the safety of my king-sized duvet. I don’t ask myself. ‘Can I become the kind of person it will take to get it?’ Who we become is far more important than what we get. 59 . Whatever your goal.GOALS Goals are as individual as fingerprints and one man’s nirvana is often another man’s nervous breakdown. When I look at my lofty. I can have anything. nothing is beyond us. Rather I ask myself. there is one thing I have learned and one thing I know: We can achieve anything. ‘Can I have this goal’ because I already know I can. we all can. If we set our goals to paper and intend them to happen. mountains will move and rivers will part.

our health and the love and health of those dear to us.Chapter 10 Gratitude: a Bit of Invisible Support Sometimes we get so caught up in the maelstrom of life. It often seems that we don’t really appreciate our lot until it might be taken away from us. 60 . I know that I am often guilty of this and it is something that I intend to remedy because gratitude is more vital to our well-being than money or position or prospects. all that we have had and all that we will receive in the future. a loss. ambition and achievement that we fail to realise what is really important in our lives. depression – that we stop to appreciate just what we have. It is only after we hit a snag in life – an illness. We forget to stop and thank God for all that we have.

This is how great people achieve great things. Gandhi and Mother Teresa – I notice that they all start their day with meditation and prayer. after all. It would be unwise 61 . Not only does this morning mediation give them the chance to offer gratitude. They rely on God and through Him all things are possible. The spiritually aware are not in the habit of relying entirely upon themselves to achieve great things. It’s a bit like filling your car with fuel in the morning in anticipation of the day’s journey. even – perhaps especially – when we think we don’t. Deepak Chopra. she could never have sustained herself throughout the day. Mother Teresa said that without her morning prayer and meditation (like Deepak Chopra she started early in the day.). but by giving thanks for what they have already received and for what they know they will receive in the future. A big part of their daily ritual consists of thanking God for everything they have. Great people don’t get themselves in a muddle (too often) and then run to prayer (like most of us) to get fixed up. They pray preventatively so that they don’t end up in a muddle in the first place. is better than a pound of cure. One ounce of prevention. from four until six a.m.GRATITUDE: A BIT OF INVISIBLE SUPPORT When I look at the people I admire – Jesus Christ. but it also gives them the opportunity to fuel-up – spiritually. They start their day not by asking for more. mentally and physically – for the day. We all need a bit of invisible support.

They say that pain is a good advisor. insight. they (me. but the change only lasts long enough to get them out of the rough and then ‘bang!’. while the idea is fresh in your mind. courage and a heck of a lot of self-knowledge. you.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD to just get up and drive your vehicle until it runs out of fuel. ‘I’ll get myself right and then I’ll change (and I mean it this time). all of us) end up falling back into their old ways and the pain of the past is hardly remembered. What I am suggesting here – and this is as much for me as it is for you – is that the change you are always threatening (better diet. Now if we were able to employ honest perception (‘I know what 62 . destined-to-arrive tomorrow. I don’t know of anyone who has not reached a crisis point at least once in their lives and thought. and it is. then before you know it you would be riding the next wave rather than being bashed against the rocks (again). however. It takes discipline.’ And then they get themselves right and they change. If you are lucky you may end up broken down only yards away from a nearby garage (not too much of an inconvenience). But if you were to start now. being more patient. end up broken down miles from anywhere with a long and inconvenient walk to the nearest fuel station. less jealous) is far better implemented from the solid clearing of the healthy here-and-now than it is from the out-of-balance. You might. But – as the saying intimates – it involves pain.

‘I’ll get myself right then I’ll change (and I mean it this time’). likely with the promise that.GRATITUDE: A BIT OF INVISIBLE SUPPORT needs to be changed’) and a bit of will (‘I am strong enough to make that change’). 63 . we could avoid the worst pain by tackling it while it is still just a niggle on the periphery of our knowing. Or you could simply wait (like the last time) to get yourself buried up to the neck in problems and then try and muster the courage to pull yourself back out again.

I presume) – returns with a vengeance and you have to make new holes in your belt. the very same weight – and a bit more (for inflation. but as a man with the propensity to grow. Now I don’t know about you. It’s depressing. I have tried all the fad diets. And they all work… but only for a while. to the size of a small continent. isn’t it? 64 . Almost as soon as you lose the pounds (sometimes stones) and your jeans stop straining at the seams.Chapter 11 Have Your Cake and Eat It Go into any bookshop worth its salt and you’ll find a pile of books and magazines offering the latest lose-fat-and-still-eat-chips diet that will allow you – or your money back – to have your cake and eat it. after a two-week holiday in Florida.

From then on in my weight has gone up and down like a busy lift. the beers and curries started to take their toll and I developed what can only be described as a wide-load arse. When I was 19 and clothes-line thin I could empty the contents of an industrial fridge without clocking up a single extra number on the bathroom scales. the salad and chicken renaissance lay in wait. In fact.HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT It wouldn’t be so bad but all the really tasty stuff simply oozes fat-gut. weight gain. The minute I get a fry-up down my neck. nibbling on health biscuits that taste like manila envelopes. Then I hit 30. I can be good for months at a time. sometimes even longer. At thirty my internal calorie-crunching gizmo switched to a lazy three-day week. though. my legs start going all Sumo. and my weight stays at a comfortable 13 stone nine. As little as a week on a take-away fest leaves me with a skincoloured bum-bag that wobbles in time with my step. I only have to look at the biscuit barrel and I grow another chin. I was so thin that I wanted to put on weight. All of a sudden the nuts and crisps. My food-abuse period was over. I take every opportunity 65 . When the weight is off I float around like a featherlight thing in tight fitting tee shirts tucked into bottom-hugging jeans. but my in-a-hurry metabolism burnt calories as quickly as I could extract them from Kit-Kats and kormas.

food-combining diets that are so complicated your brain throbs like a hammered thumb and sends you racing to the nearest chippy for a carb/fat/calorie top-up. and beer and puddings that I might as well mould right onto my belly. high-protein diets that turn your stools to rocks (ouch). rationalisation. wine. And the apparel changes accordingly. high-fibre diets that have you shitting through the eye of a needle. My selfesteem drags around behind me like a wedding train. I have tried them all. my self-esteem rises to the rooftops. Even sex takes a backseat because it involves nakedness and hours of holding in my belly. even when the wind is whistling my nipples into biker studs. And the fruit diet! What’s that all about then? I’ve been on it and no matter how hard I’ve tried I can’t make a grape look or taste like a Malteser! 66 . hidden by trench-coat sweatshirts that obliterate everything from the neck to the knees. low-carb diets that leave you so hungry you start nicking food off the kids’ plates and snacking on carpet tiles. As I said. When I’m thin. however. beltless trousers with the top two buttons undone. My world becomes one of chip dinners (I hide away in greasy-Joe cafes).EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD to remove my top and bare my torso. a dark cloud descends on my day. When the weight is on. A man needs his strength after all. take-away curries.

train every other day and you’ll keep the fat-monster at bay. but it works. Geoffrey. Have some of what you want. I’m going to heed my mum’s advice (offered to me when I hit a hefty 16 stone): ‘Walk past that chip shop. In the meantime.HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT So what is the answer? How do I keep my sylph-like physique with all the culinary temptations constantly battling to fatten me up? After 40 years of counting calories. It’s difficult. but not all of what you want.’ 67 . hunting for the fat content on the backs of crisp packets and watching my bungee-belly bounce backwards and forwards from six pack to party seven. and you can never let up. I’ve come to the conclusion that disciplined light eating for the rest of my life is the only way to stop me from looking like a doughnut. I dream that the Hereafter might be a paradoxical universe where Mars Bars and crisp sandwiches are the vital sustenance of life.

Some say (and I agree with them) that intentions are the building blocks of the universe.Chapter 12 Intention There has been much written of late about intention. complete with cloud-bathing heavens and barrelscraping hells. fashioning random realities with our unskilled and unschooled thoughts. What you strongly intend today you are sure to live out in all your tomorrows. When we are in heaven we call it a fluke or a happy accident.’ The truth is neither. This is both exciting and terrifying. then looking outside ourselves to praise or 68 . When we are in hell we call it ‘karmic return’ or we talk about ‘spiteful God. We are creators of denial. Most of us are not well-practised with our intentions so we tend to create our universe accidentally.

People with a lower level of consciousness revel in the blame culture.INTENTION blame when our creation makes us happy or sends us into a dizzy depression. People with higher levels of consciousness always place themselves at cause. Those who blame do so because (deep down) they are afraid of responsibility. If you blame God. if you blame the government. Those that take responsibility 69 . This is a weak place to reside because it is so disempowering. The very act of blaming gives your power over to the object of your blame. There is no darker place than the one you’re in when you’re playing the blame game. if you blame your ex-wife or mate or teacher. It is easier to hunt down a culpable scapegoat than it is to take the blame onto your own shoulders. to blame. Similarly. then you give them the key to your cell and await their leniency. society. then it means your situation will not change until God favours you. It is not their fault that life is shit so they look for someone. They blame no one. This gives them the freedom to practise their intentions until they become expert enough to create something dazzling. city or town. anyone. You always become a prisoner of those you blame. your country. They understand that their reality is one of their own making and if they want to change it they have only to look to the man or woman in the mirror.

I was scared because although I realised I’d created this juxtaposition of realities.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD do so because they are excited about the possibilities of creating a new and ever-improved reality. It was at this point that I got very scared. It was only when I took a hard and honest inventory of my life that I realised I was the creator of it all. in both worlds. And that is what I did. I could become an expert and I could practise as much as I wanted. I was excited because I knew I could learn by using my own inadvertent experience as a reference point. That made my reality very unpredictable. I could trace every good and every bad result back to intentions – or strong and persistent thoughts – that I’d had. whilst at the same time creating violence. I resided consecutively. I could learn from my own experience. And where the details were foggy I could borrow from the library of information that is currently available on the power of intention. happiness and material possessions with my very best intentions. I wasn’t exactly sure how. So how do you practise intention? 70 . And it was at this point that I got very excited. before I accepted responsibility. wealth. sometimes concurrently. unhappiness and penury with my very worst. In my time I have created health. Personally. illness.

I placed myself in front of world-class teachers. Even new science is catching up with theories of Quantum mechanics (see the film. Once you accept the premise the training can begin. and the Tao Te Ching. I talked judo. But more than anything else I practised judo. with study and diligence. until I was 71 . I drilled and drilled and drilled the techniques until I was expert. but the universal intention that you click into when you practise. the Koran. I watched judo. If you don’t at least have an intellectual understanding of your own power then you are doomed to spin in an ever increasing cycle of random creation where life will bring you joy one day and a punch in the eye the next. You practise intention the same way as you would practice anything that you want to become expert in. I actually lived and breathed judo. until I could close my eyes and feel them. To become a strong judo player I read everything on judo. What The Bleep Do We Know or look at Deepak Chopra’s work on the science of intention). it is in the Bhagavad-gita. Not just your own intention. Buddhism’s basic tenant is that we create our own universe. if you desire. It is in the Bible. Search out the truth from another source.INTENTION First you have to accept that intention is a creative force.

They think illness. read it. watch it and live it until eventually they manifest all the fine and grizzly details in their own bodies. or the opportunities to make it. If I want to create good health then I intend good health by seeing it. If it is wealth I am after. they talk it. 72 . Buy the books (my book. Intention is no different. any of Deepak Chopra’s works. into my life. you’ll start to see some decent movement. then practise what you have learned and be the proof that it works. reading it. People that make themselves ill practice intention without realising it. you will get weekend results. you will rise rapidly into the higher echelons. hearing it. intention is about everything I do. You start by investing in the information and instruction. I dwell on wealth until I start to draw it. If you make it your life. If you are a weekend player. There is nothing like actual hands-on experience to cement a truth in place. then I do the same thing. The Elephant and the Twig. The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe by Lynne McTaggart). they see and fear illness. If you practise four or five times a week. talking it and doing all the things that constitute good health.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD the techniques and could handle judo players on the international scene. For me. attend the seminars (if you don’t invest in you who will?).

It wasn’t always that way. She was finally taken into the hospital for a brain scan. She even convinced herself once that she had a brain tumour. the sight in her left eye returned. She is at the top of her field. She had no tumour. The scan was clear. in a short time. as soon as she got the results. sometimes months at a time. Then she had a thought. She thought about it all day long. When the actor Jim Carey was going through a very difficult phase as a stand-up comedian he drove up to Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood hills and decided that he was no longer prepared to work for peanuts. if her mind was so powerful that it could manifest blindness. She became so convinced she had a brain tumour that she went blind in her left eye. how much more could she manifest if she schooled and disciplined her thought and put her intention to work on good things? People that create great wealth click into the same power. Interestingly. When she was younger and her mind was undisciplined she was always suffering with psychosomatic illnesses that would often lay her up for weeks.INTENTION I have a friend of a friend who is a very successful woman. she actually started to manifest these symptoms herself. There was nothing physically wrong with her. She read about tumours in her medical books and read articles about the symptoms in medical journals until. He was no longer prepared to be an also-ran stand-up comedian dying on stage night after night in 73 .

Ten years later he was an actor in Hollywood. Whether you intend to paint the front room or climb Mount Everest. seeing. And if you intend enough.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD front of a partisan crowd. If you can learn to drive then you can learn to intend. He was wrong. you can become an authority. He was earning $20 million. but he wasn’t earning $10 million. You practise by doing. and doing involves thinking. feeling. Intention is a very learnable technique. smelling and intuiting your intention until your thoughts coagulate and become manifest. Why not try? 74 . hearing. the process is the same. He vowed that he would be earning that amount per film within ten years. His intention was so solid that he wrote it down and then never lost the faith until his dream was a reality. So he took his bank book out and wrote himself a cheque for $10 million.

how very fucking invigorating. The praise comes at us like a sickly sweet chocolate waterfall and we let it shower over us. another black belt. physically-stretching. But how brave are we? 75 . the next unchartered landscape that we can not only attack but also tell our friends that we are going to attack so that they can flatter us with their admiration. We get a pat on the back. another gruelling. How brave. how exciting. We take a little rest then onto the next extreme challenge. It’s good to be brave. admiration from our peers and awards stacked up on our shelves. Looking In Another marathon. The elements are conquered. a trophy. pain-inducing endeavour where we venture out bravely to our furthest limits. a medal.Chapter 13 Looking Out.


Do we choose the fights that we know we can win (even though we tell ourselves how extremely dangerous they are?) Are we guilty of racing out there pretending to look for the unchartered when actually we know that all of it is chartered and – although certainly physically demanding – has been done before? In order to be really brave, to be really extreme, to be really daring and adventurous and to really (I mean really) look death in the eye and take our hearts (and our arses) in our hands, we need never do another climb, race another marathon, face another black belt panel or fight another monster on the nightclub door. In fact, I’d say that if we really want to stop pretending, we don’t need to leave the city that we live in, the town, the road, the street, the house, the room or even our own skin, ever again. If we really want to be brave we just need to close our eyes, stop going out and start going in. Fuck Nanga Parbat, fuck the one-hundred-man kumite, fuck the marathon across the desert or the triathlon across broken glass in bare feet. Fuck all of that because it is old hat, it has all been done. That old parrot of a challenge is dead. It is all boringly predictable compared to the real challenge of going inside and taking a cold, hard, honest look at yourself – and then changing the bits that no longer serve. Actually, even before that it would be a start to admit 76


the fact that the man or woman that you look at in the bathroom mirror every day is deeply flawed. The man or woman with ten black-belt certificates in ten different styles from ten different masters who the outside world thinks is granite tough is not even tough enough to leave the job they hate, the spouse who treats them badly, the city that no longer nourishes them and the habits that bleed them dry because they are frightened of real change. Real change is full of uncertainty. The man who impressed the living shit out of everyone by climbing ten peaks in ten months and who lost ten toes to frostbite is not even strong enough to resist temptation. Instead, he loses his integrity by sleeping with his best mate’s wife. For a five second spurty tingle of cloudy liquid, he loses his soul. Most of us think we are tough but most of us are not even tough enough to deal with the greed and envy in our gut, the panic and fear in our chest, the repressed rage that is hooked and fish-boned into the flesh of our throats or the jealousy that rages in our heads. We feel tough but we can’t control what we eat and what we drink and what we ingest. We feel strong yet we let our thoughts kick sand in our faces. We feel manly and yet we fear to cry. We claim power and yet we lack even the power to change. So we go out, we do courses, we listen to lectures, we take yoga (five different styles), we lift weights, 77


or go to step class or learn Qui Gung or Tai Chi. We read the Bible, we devour the I-Ching or memorise the Bhagavad-gita. When we feel spiritual we quote Lao Tzu and when we feel angry we fire invectives from Sun Tzu. We talk about the Upanishads (‘What, you haven’t read the Upanishads?’), we meditate, contemplate, whirl like a dervish, chant, have homeopathy, get our feet massaged, have our scalps fingered by a dark-skinned chip fryer from Bolton, do the tarot, have our runes read, visit spiritual healers, sun worship, go on a fucking retreat and talk to fucking trees. We go out and we do it all. And that’s the point. We are going out but we’re not going in. Out there is the path that is so well-travelled that the ground is flat. There is only one path that is not only less travelled, but not fucking travelled at all. That is that one true path that leads us into the murky quarry, the slushy cerebral dumping ground where the decomposing (but still very alive) bodies of our pasts lie waiting not only for their reckoning, not only for their release date, not only for their say but for their redemption. It is hard to look at what you did, what was done to you, how you were treated and how you treated others. It is hard to look the many versions of the old you in the eye and say, ‘Actually, I don’t like you. I don’t like what you are, what you did. I don’t like what you didn’t do. I don’t like what you became. 78

But if you really want peace. To ensure the release of these trapped entities you don’t just have to acknowledge them and look them in the eye. Climb the mountain if it is a workout you are looking for. I let me (all of me) go. I don’t understand you.’ That’s difficult.LOOKING OUT. I let them go. that is a fearsome one-hundredman kumite (each opponent a version of the old you with a grudge to bear and a bloody axe to grind). stop working out and start working in. ‘I forgive you. LOOKING IN I don’t like what you allowed yourself to become. but it gets even harder. 79 . you have to face them and say. That’s a mountain to climb.’ Do the marathon if it serves you. I forgive them.

The challenge to him and to Paul was not in just facing down the 80 . When I asked Paul what it was that most drew him to a new project.Chapter 14 Night-travellers I thought you might be interested in a conversation I had at the weekend with my writer friend. In fact. He said he liked doing the work that frightened him. he didn’t do it because fear was the key ingredient in making great television (or great anything). Most of us spend our days looking for comfort and avoiding discomfort. Paul Abbot. The work that scared him most was the work he wanted to do. he said that if the work didn’t scare the crap out of him. Ray Winstone said a similar thing to me when we were filming Bouncer. he said it was fear. This means that we avoid fear at all costs.

They learn to love the adrenalin and they turn that raw energy into success. People like Paul and Ray are what the poet Rumi called ‘night-travellers’. You might be surprised to find that fear is not the enemy you always thought it to be. It is only that they change their perception of fear. It is not that these people do not feel fear. take a step towards it. sometimes even more acutely than everyone else. Light and knowledge are given to those brave enough to turn and face their fears. creep up on it. The people who see red lights as green. They do this because (as Rumi said) the moon shines on night-travellers. but in using the fear as alchemistic base metal to make gold. break off its four corners or – if you are really courageous – dive into it head first and see what happens. Most of us walk around thinking that we are the only people in the world who feel fear. You may be even more surprised to find that buried within that fear is a 81 . So. what it is that you are avoiding? What is it that you fear? Maybe now is the time to be brave and turn into the dark.NIGHT-TRAVELLERS fear. those who lean into the sharp edges are the very people that become ultra successful. Because of this we avoid things that frighten us. people who go into the night and hunt down their fears. They feel it just the same. which means we stop growing.

When you stand and endure. that molten metal of fear inside you turns to gold. look it in the eye and dare it to do its worst.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD golden nugget of information that can’t be found anywhere else on this earth. And when the fear rears its ugly head. Start now. Fear feeds on your terror. Be brazen. It is nourished by those who turn and run. Then watch your threedimensional demon turn into a two-dimensional cartoon and quickly disappear. Courage is the killer of weeds like fear. Be brave. Be a night-traveller! 82 . Make the decision.

defeated walk) and his eyes (they hit the ground like dropped marbles) that he’d expected a little more of himself. He knew (he later confided) that my class was tough and that the fighters were top drawer but he thought he might at least be able to hold his own. After the session he asked me where he had gone wrong. his gait (shoulders hunched. I could tell by his face (dispirited). and very fit. Not only was he getting tapped out. I wasn’t sure. maybe 22. To be frank. I watched him fight three or four times and all I could see was that 83 . He knew his way around the mat as far as the ground work was concerned but he was getting tapped out again and again by a succession of my instructors.Chapter 15 Reciprocal Returns The lad that was visiting my master class was young. he was completely out of his depth.

He was training recreationally and expecting professional results. ‘You are training twice a week. these guys are training twice a day. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why there was such a disparity between his ability and that of my people.’ I told him. Painters who imagine that three hours at the easel is going to turn them into the next David Hockney.’ he replied (a little too keenly) ‘I train twice a week. hoping that his training routine might shed some light on the issue. Without fail. ‘How often do you train?’ I asked. Fair-weather golfers who get their clubs out every summer and then wonder why their handicap remains a handicap. The writing world (similarly) is full of part-time hacks that throw out a 84 .000 screaming fans on a Saturday afternoon. I was confused so I decided to do a bit of probing.’ My visiting martial artist was making the same mistake as many.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD he was out-gunned by better players than himself.’ I remember thinking: Twice a week! Without fail! I smiled. ‘Oh. This problem does not just confine itself to the martial arts. ‘Well that’s your problem. Footballers who train on a Wednesday and play on a Sunday but dream of kicking a premiership ball in front of 50. By Monday night they’ve already done your week’s quota of training. I see the same attitude in all walks of life. This is a bit like planting cabbage in your garden and expecting roses in the summer.

The law of reciprocal returns is very exciting. This (I have found) is a universe that gives out what it gets in. And its mandate is very clear: Step up. Good because it means that anyone who invests their time diligently can expect great returns. or shut up! 85 . It means that you can have anything if you are prepared to do the work and handle the pressure. And when it doesn’t materialise they look outside of themselves and blame.RECIPROCAL RETURNS weekend script and then bitch because Hollywood does not recognise their genius. The returns are entirely reciprocal. banging in the minimal investment and then sitting around waiting for the floodgates of great returns to open up for them. I am amazed by the amount of people I see who are treading water. This is good news and bad. People want gain without pain. bad news because those that want to change what they are getting without changing what they are giving have a lot of stepping up to do. profit without investment and reward without risk.

an idea. a premise. maybe one century if I am blessed. I want my suffering to be for a reason. something – a word.Chapter 16 Suffering We are all suffering. so I don’t really want to spend any of it suffering unless I can profit from the experience. Nietzsche said that if we know the why we can endure almost anything. My sojourn on this globe is not a long one. We can all endure suffering if we know why. a sentence. If I can’t do this. a medicine. 86 . I want to understand the nature of my suffering and replace it with a heavy dose of peace. As a man that has suffered a lot I am no different to anyone else. then I at least want to make sense of it. maybe a chant – that might help ease your pain. if my suffering is unavoidable. There is a fair chance that you are suffering right now and are looking for balm.

I found no such relief (other than the temporary inspiration that good information affords). in books or conversations with gurus. Every time I go out I am directed back in. actually even left my body in search of the pain panacea. Instead I found direction in the guise of a finger that pointed not East. There is no joy and little 87 . Outside. Go inside. and the suffering that is inflicted up on us by circumstance. Deeper still. I (like most) left my city. not to the temples of Tibet or the churches of Rome. but back to Coventry. it could lead us into a long life of unnecessary pain. Have a good look at the discomfort that resides there. From my limited understanding. my garden. there are two kinds of suffering. That never knowing could kill us. drink. Every time I hide I am advised to try visibility instead. my body.SUFFERING In my bid for knowledge. we should (if at all possible) eradicate. denial) we might never know what the suffering means. drugs. And if we keep covering the message with artificial blankets (painkillers. Every time I try to run I am encouraged to wait and see. it pointed back to that dark nothingness that pervades all things when I close my eyes. The suffering that we inflict on ourselves. or worse still. The suffering that we bring on ourselves. sex. back to my house. Why? Because suffering is the body’s way of telling us that something is wrong. left my country.

do a degree. perhaps because we are too lazy to change. not with the government and certainly not with other people. become the most 88 . Do we enjoy being a martyr to our suffering? At one time or another I have fallen into all of these categories. If your suffering is health related. make us jealous. wealth and happiness lies not with the hospitals and doctors. most of your suffering will end. These are all circumstances that we readily accept. if you place yourself at cause and expect nothing from anyone. The responsibility lies with you. perhaps because we do not know any better. No one can offend us. Become an expert. The responsibility for my health. To stop this kind of suffering. no one can let us down. if you own everything. cheat us. poor. a PHD. and if you can stop your negative thoughts. find out how to get well and stay well. we become their prisoners. But I have since learned to recognise that I am the centre of my universe. Nearly all suffering can be traced back to the self. If you are really honest. we need clinical self-honesty. make us envious. greedy. no one can abandon us. fat or unfit.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD gain in suffering unnecessarily. depressed. The moment we rely on outside forces for our well-being. an MA. angry. disappoint us. under-educated. why not make it your life’s mission to understand your body.

SUFFERING knowledgable person on the planet with regards to your health. you ease the suffering of all those who find themselves in your situation. lectures and courses. So get out there. Talk to the psychologically robust. Blame is the predictable response of the masses and once employed it knows no end. History is brimming 89 . Study business and make yourself a man of great economic knowledge. Don’t blame the government because of the poor minimum wage. put yourself into an apprenticeship with the wealthy and the rich. make it your life’s work to understand the cerebral schematic and put that information to work for you. Scour the internet. who do you think is going to change your situation if you don’t? There is no one coming to your rescue. If your suffering is economic. There are no more heroes. It has been done. invest in books. much of it free. These options are open to everyone. You need to hunt it down. make that information public so that you not only ease your own suffering. If your suffering is mental. It can be done. Don’t blame any outside forces. Study economics. But information will not drop out of the sky. earn your worth and ease your suffering. then put that information into use and be the proof that it works. Don’t blame the conglomerates for stealing too much of the pie. The information is all out there. In fact. ask them their secrets.

your suffering will feel as though it knows no depths.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD with folks that have taken responsibility for their own suffering and have not only succeeded in easing their pain. the cook pushed it back in with the ladle and said. The Sufi poet Rumi said that the chickpea only got its flavour from being boiled in the pot. I’m not. if you are wise enough to look inside rather than outside. but have become massively successful at the same time. Much of the greatest stuff I have learned in the last 46 years has come directly from periods of suffering.’ 90 . ‘You think I’m torturing you. But if I can’t get out of it immediately. Whether you are lying in bed sweating and manically depressed at three a..m. I am going to learn as much from it as I can. I am boiling you to make you sweet. In fact. I would say that personal development is a natural by-product of enduring pain. or you are a Holocaust survivor (like him). When it tried to jump out to escape its suffering. Austrian neurologist Viktor Frankl said that all suffering is relative. What I have learned from my suffering is that I don’t like it much. that is. It has been proven by psychologists that the symptoms of manic depression can be as frightening to the sufferer as climbing out of a dug-out with a bayonet to engage in mortal combat.

Sometimes you can’t. Frankl suggests doing something radical. make decisions. But heed the advise on offer. Address it. It is an opportunity offered to few people. If you go into your pain. Take responsibility. He said that there is great liberty in suffering. You must be worthy of your suffering.SUFFERING When we are suffering. we all tend to look for an escape. that we have the opportunity in our darkest moments to reach a higher consciousness through endurance. Do what is necessary. but leave it behind. The answer is always hidden within the problem. If there is a way out. Pain is a great adviser. Right now if you can. Your suffering wants you to see something. If you are brave enough to look closely at them. if you are brave enough to do that. then the 91 . Do not turn away. My experiences have led me to the same conclusion. my recommendation is that you take it. they offer you great secrets. change and adapt. This doesn’t mean that you just accept suffering. Once you are in possession of the vital information you need. In these circumstances. until you get it. leave your suffering behind. Suffering is wise counsel. you will find yourself back in the middle of your suffering. to sit in it and examine it minutely. again and again. Handle it. but you endure it stoically while actively looking for a solution. If you don’t.

Once you take responsibility for yourself. Your life-imposed suffering can offer you transcendence. It’s up to you. 92 . you will draw assistance from every living corner of the universe.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD self-inflicted suffering will disappear (because it only feeds on fear). Suffering ceases to be suffering when we truly lose our fear of suffering. No one can help you with this.

pugilism suited me. This is why (and when) I started to experiment with very close range combat. I specialised in punching. Yet all around me there were martial artists practising 93 . culturally.Chapter 17 The Art of Restriction When I first started working as a club doorman all those years ago. There was rarely any room for manoeuvre. I realised way back then that in a fight you very rarely had more than 18 inches of space to work in. because punching is the range most consistently available in a real fight and. the thing that struck me most (scared the shit out of me actually) was how restrictive a real confrontation is when it comes to space. the fight always ended up very close and personal. It didn’t seem to matter whether you were fighting on four acres of mown grass or three-square-feet of pissy pub toilet.

’ By using this technique I was able to summon instant power from any position and at any range. I was able to draw an explosion of power from (seemingly) nothing. When you have no range of movement. I developed what I called ‘restrictive training. chair.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD in a range of three feet or more and using techniques that would not be possible in a live encounter. And you do. This restriction forces you to ‘find’ something else. I could summon tremendous power and explosion without even moving my feet. their bellies. Because of restriction of movement and space. We started to employ joints (the more the better) in the technique. tension and stiffness completely impede any power. even the most restrictive. kneeling positions. so that (for instance) if I was in a phone booth or a toilet cubicle or on a packed dance floor. Whether I was in a car or a phone booth.). for me and for anyone else interested in taking it to the concrete. Very quickly. And then there was 94 . a toilet cubicle or a farmer’s field. etc. I encouraged my students to punch from seated positions (floor. To try to mend this gaping hole in contemporary combat. with their backs against the wall – from anywhere that massively restricted their movements. from on their backs. we started to develop massive relaxation through necessity. From restricted positions you are unable to employ hip twist or use momentum to garner power.

one of the first things that starts to grow when space is at a premium. it also acts as an accelerator. an indefinable energy. You won’t find it in a book or on a tape or even in a class.THE ART OF RESTRICTION intent. It would be no exaggeration to say that I get people punching twice as hard within one session using this method. I can’t claim to know what the energy is other than an accident.’ It has as many names as there are cultures. an explosion at the end of the technique that cannot be brought or bartered. people become big hitters much faster than normal. The Chinese call it ‘chi. Not only does restrictive training force people to find some other source of power than the one that they normally employ. Restrictive training helps you to become accident prone. But being able to punch hard is not what excites me about restrictive training. Personally I don’t want to place a name to it or throw a shroud of mystique around it. You realise very quickly that intent of power is power. Then there is that certain something that only restriction training can develop. It works so well that folks have to start pulling their punches because the power they are generating is too much for their bones (they start picking up injuries) and too much for the bones of their opponents.’ the Japanese ‘qui. What I really love about it is the fact that it enables you to view life restrictions from a totally different and positive perspective. Just as restriction can trigger 95 .


the release of chi in physical training so can restriction in life (if viewed correctly) enable you to discover a reservoir of hitherto untapped power. Lance Armstrong was given a life-threatening restriction called cancer. He had a choice. Lie down and take it and probably die within a year, or find something that would not only enable him to heal, but also give him the power to win the Tour de France an unprecedented eight times. Do you know that he was so dominant in the Tour that the organisers changed the route several times to give the other riders a chance at winning? I was bullied at school and suffered badly from depression. I had a choice. Accept this and live a life of mediocrity and fear, or find something inside me, some force, some power that would not only elevate me above my playground tormentors, but also take me to the world stage in martial arts and in writing. Everyone reading this is restricted in one way or another. It might be a health issue or a relationship problem, it might be money or fear. Your restriction could be that you are without direction or hope. If you are like most people (I hope you are not), you are probably looking outside of yourself for someone to blame. If you have the courage to stop projecting and look inside youself you might be surprised to find that there is an infinite amount of power available to you within the very restriction you are trying to escape. 96


Many people (I count myself as one of them) go into life and search out restriction in order that they might grow. They seek out tough martial arts schools where they are at the bottom of the class, difficult jobs where they feel out of their depth, situations that scare them, places (inside and out) that expose their cracks. Some people are really brave and restrict themselves with the little things that make the biggest difference – things like diet, personal discipline, counselling, and psychotherapy. Others (and I also include myself in this group) have no need to go in search of restriction because restriction has been thrust upon them by illness, money or family problems. Either way, your route to the stars is not to turn your back on restriction and kick and scream and wish it gone, but rather it is to turn into it, grab your spade of courage and dig deep. Somewhere within the problem you are facing right now is the answer that you have been looking for your whole life.


Chapter 18

The Blame Trap
As a species we have the power to change the world (certainly our own world). Of this I have no doubt. In fact, I am the living embodiment of my ‘live-it-now and do-it-all’ philosophy. I live my life in the creation business. I create my world. I love every minute of it. Thus far I have managed to make manifest every desire I have set my intention on. This is not meant to sound smug. I see myself as a very ordinary person who has managed to liberate himself from a life of unnecessary toil. If I can do it, believe me, anyone can. I measure my accomplishment not by the balance in my bank (though lots of noughts can be very pleasing), but by the fact that when I get up in the morning and when I go to bed at night, I feel happy. That’s what makes me a success. 98

As an adult that is exactly what puts bread on my table from one day to the next. to garden. If you blame the environment. It does exactly what it says on the tin. If you can’t do what you want to do because you wife says so. That means that until she says yes. or to teach but they can’t because their life. It is probably the most over-used and certainly the most disempowering combination of words you could ever make the mistake of employing. It’s when you spend your life doing the things you don’t like that the Monday morning feeling stretches through until Friday afternoon and Sundays are a dread because they precede Monday. the mortgage. of course. is very subjective. you’re stuck where you are. Your idea of nirvana may be – and very likely is – entirely different from mine.THE BLAME TRAP As a child I always dreamed of making my living as a writer. Success. one I used (to death) as a younger man. their environment. This very statement. is a self-fulfilling prophecy. That’s when you find yourself thinking. ‘Is this what I really want to do with my life?’ This is especially true if you feel you have no other choice. People are forever telling me that they would love to write. to sculpt. you give her all your power. circumstance or your upbringing. the kids. their circumstances – even God – won’t allow it. their wife. you 99 . As long as what you do makes you happy then it would be fair to say you are a success.

again. then by definition you are exactly that. and by extension. I hated my lot but. If you believe you are powerless (the moment you fall into the blame trap you are powerless). my lot was never my fault (is it ever?) The answer is as simple as a Greek drama. it means that. As a fledgling.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD give all your power over to these inanimates. ‘Why am I there?’ Just hope that your first answer is not. ‘The money!’ 100 . you’re glued to mediocrity. then you have to ask yourself. It takes bollocks of cast-iron to take the reins but if you want to trail-blaze then riding shotgun is not where it’s at. until they favour you. And. Think about the job you do for one moment. Take back the responsibility for your own creative power. if you are not inspired to the point of exhilaration about the nuts and bolts of your current employment. The reason I know this is because I have fallen into the same trap more times than I care to remember. of course. I spent my days wallowing in procrastination. if they don’t have to drag you away from the office kicking and screaming at the end of each day because you want to do more. You probably spend two thirds (at least) of your waking life at work. makes all those you love happy also. Admit ownership of your future then set about building a palatial existence that makes you happy. blame and self-pity. Two-thirds! Now if you don’t love the bones off your job.

What’s the use of a blue ribbon when you haven’t even run the race? It is difficult. I thrive on the unpredictability and (if I am being honest here). I don’t want to be stuck in the middle of some cornflake-size comfort zone.’ you might say. I like being scared. I want to be out there experiencing everything. I agree. You see. You can’t temper a blade without putting it through a forge. I want to be precariously balanced on some craggy precipice where I can see it all. let’s keep things in perspective here. when you love what you do it stops being work and becomes fun. Carrying a hod on a building site is back-breakingly hard. It wasn’t always this way. I love being me. ‘Yea. Now I enjoy my life so much I don’t want to sleep at night. unpredictable definitely. it has to be hard. I have become comfortable with discomfort because discomfort is a sign that I am growing. but please.’ Of course it’s hard.THE BLAME TRAP I am emphatic about this message so please don’t think me conceited when I tell you that I love my life. I love being overwhelmed. even out of my depth. for sure. ‘but (the obligatory BUT) it’s really hard. working your brain into mush 101 . My working life is unconventional certainly. But I like unconventional. I hated it to pieces. I spent the first half of my life living other people’s idea of normal. sweeping around a metaphoric lathe. and sometimes it scares the living shit out of me.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD on a computer everyday can be hard with a capital H. ‘This is what I really want to do with my life. we have the God-given power to reinvent ourselves. that entails bargaining two-thirds of your life just to make the mortgage is harder than a big bag of hard things. ‘If you think you can or you think you can’t. The moment we think that we lack this power our thoughts make it so. It’s what we do on a daily basis. Any job. even if it is just the fact that we do not choose to change where we are. especially the ones you despise. At least when your sweat is vocational. We all know about hard.’ 102 .) If we don’t like it. you can sit down at the end of another satisfying day and think. Someone dead famous (so famous I can’t remember his name) once said (and he was right). when you are hacking away in the right jungle.’ We are where we are in life through choice. (Oh yes we are. you are right.

I don’t read it. Actually that is not entirely accurate. I am highly aroused by it because it is innate. it drains my energy. I don’t entertain it at all. like all addictions. In fact. but it is true. But I don’t judge it either. I let it go around about the same time that I stopped drinking alcohol.Chapter 19 The Pornographic Wasp If I told you that it was a wasp that taught me the dangers of pornography you’d probably accuse me of being a honeycomb short of the full hive. well. Before I recount the lesson. I haven’t for many years. I don’t really like it because. So I don’t watch it anymore. Sometimes it completely disempowers me. I do like pornography. I have a confession to make. Let’s say that I am highly aroused by pornography. I don’t like porn because it is an addiction and 103 . it is my genes.

So my issue with pornography is neither a moral nor ethical one. I want to be strong and I want to be free. pornography and people pleasing. And when we have our power back we can do anything we like with it. Those who are heavily addicted are prisoners to their addiction. At the time of his death he had some three hundred million followers. And when you controlled yourself you literally controlled the world. all our wealth is locked into our addictions.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD addictions are prisons for the weak of will. Killing your addictions opens the door to freedom. who used this method of abstention to change the course of human history (no less). gambling. and when we kill those addictions we win our power back. alcohol. The Kabbalah teaches us that all our power. I won’t be weak neither will I be prisoner to my senses. 104 . The first and best and most immediate way to control the self is via the senses. He believed that each of us has one major addiction and that when you closed the door to that one.) It is a trick that I learned from Gandhi. Most people are infected with at least one of these. you closed the door to all your addictions. (Our main addictions in this society are drugs. some people have them all. it is all about mastering my body and mind through the control of self (all growth starts with the self). and I tackled (and continue to tackle) my senses through the deliberate slaughter of my addictions. For me.

THE PORNOGRAPHIC WASP This is what my friend the wasp taught me. The question I asked myself was. ‘Is this something I can indulge or will it always be an addiction looking for a host?’ We all 105 . Like any drug you indulge. psychology and spirituality and suddenly find myself in the erotica section flicking though the pages of porn made to look like art. But with something as powerful as sex (especially for the sexually-profligate male who has about a million years of procreational conditioning in his genes) moderation (I believe) is an untenable philosophy. often dangerous. each injection needs to be stronger and sooner than the last to get the same buzz. Like most people. you have to start asking yourself a few questions. It got so that it was difficult for me to walk down the street without checking out (and imagining what I might do with) the curves of every shapely female that happened to pass by. I always justified it to myself as ‘just something blokes did’ until my appetite grew more and more controlling and started to threaten my integrity. It is small wonder then that people who initially indulge light flirtation with porn quickly progress to the hardcore. mutations that no longer resemble the procreational act of intercourse with a loving partner. When you find yourself doing things against your own will. I convinced myself that a little bit of porn was OK as long as I kept control of it. I’d go into book shops to purchase works on philosophy.

Some lost their jobs. So I put down the empty glass. Their flippancy has (or will) cost them dearly.’ Deep down I knew that the little bit was getting bigger and bigger. I’d just indulged in a porn fest (even though I really didn’t want to) and was feeling… controlled. but deep down we know that really we can’t. I kept rationlising and telling myself that ‘a little bit won’t do you any harm. The urge came on. It had become a habitual cycle. I knew that I wanted to lose this addiction but I just couldn’t find enough reason to stop. Because I no longer felt that I had a choice in the matter. It is a true story. I have many friends who have not given their addictions the respect they demand. many their lives. closed my eyes and asked for a sign. When I opened my eyes 106 . This is not a metaphor. And weak.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD think we can indulge and flirt around the edges of our addictions. their health and their relationships because a flirtation with fire set light to their whole lives. because an addiction that is alive is always an addiction that is a threat. It needed to be stopped. And this is where the wasp comes in. I am saying that it will imprison you (whilst letting you think that you are still free). Many famous folks have ruined their careers. I felt shit afterwards. Whilst I am not saying that porn will kill you. I sat in my garden drinking a fruit juice and I did what I always do when I need an honest answer. I indulged it. others their liberty.

The small indulgence had quickly turned into a life-threatening addiction. I smiled as I watched the wasp return again and again. He stood right in the middle of it and drank and drank and – started to drown. he hovered. I tipped the glass so that the wasp – having kindly passed on its wisdom to me – could fly away to live another day. my wasp flew straight to the bottom of the glass where there was a pool of thick juice. when he was ready. took several globs of juice and. Until the final time.THE PORNOGRAPHIC WASP there was a wasp hovering just above my glass. each time going a little deeper into the glass and each time drinking in a little more than the last. 107 . It landed briefly on the glass. I got the message. He was up to his little knees in juice and could not lift himself back out. stole a residue of my fruit juice and flew away. took a glob of juice from just inside the glass and flew away again. Arrogant now. Within a few brief seconds the wasp was back. had a look around. When he returned the third time he was more confident. landed. He was still being careful. each time staying a little longer. He flew straight into the glass. flew off. each time more confident. I never indulged my addiction again.

Chapter 20

The Power of Books
To my pleasure, I have discovered the hidden power of books. What we need to help us rise above the crowd is information. Actually, I stand corrected. I know plenty of people with information by the bucketload but for whatever reason they do not use it. I also know many people who use the information they have, but use it wrongly. Aspiring to achieve wisdom is the correct way to use information. One of the best ways to collect information (and of course inspiration and aspiration) is books. When I spend thousands of pounds on books, I consider it an investment in me, the person most likely to get me where I want to be. In books, we have the opportunity to access the knowledge of a thousand life times and assimilate it until it becomes us. I am 108


the living embodiment of what I have experienced and a big part of what I have experienced has been gained through the medium of reading. I always tell my little lad (when he is struggling to get into a book) that readers are leaders. Small libraries make great men. It is something that I believe emphatically. I have yet to meet a hugely successful person that wasn’t a voracious reader. I even took a speed-reading course so that I could get through more material. It’s all out there just waiting for you, and if you go to a public library, it’s absolutely free. Can you imagine that, all that knowledge, all the secrets, all that information for the price of a few beers and a curry? I’ve spent up to £50 on a single book if it was the one that I was looking for. People often say that the only way out of the rat race is through football or sport or pure luck. It’s not true. The best way out is through the library. Mention any famous name and I’ll almost guarantee that you’ll be able to find their whole life – highs, lows, successes, failures, likes and dislikes, and the secrets to their success – between the pages of a library book. Now if that is not offering it all up on a plate for your inspiration, I don’t know what is. I find it absolutely incredible that you can go into any bookshop (or even the Internet) and buy the lives of the greatest men and women in history. You can find out why and how single individuals changed the course of history. 109


One man, William Wallace, witnessed the slaughter of a whole village of people and decided that he was going to do something about it. He told his wife. She said, ‘But you’re only one man.’ That one man changed the course of history with his strength and courage. Have you read about this great and saintly woman, Mother Teresa? She cared for thousands and touched the hearts of millions. Just an ordinary girl who did extraordinary things; a village girl who touched the whole planet. What about the courage of Churchill, the tenacity of Thatcher, the wisdom of the Dalai Lama, the power and love of Sai Baba, the focus and dreams of Bill Gates, the rise and fall of Bonaparte? The list is absolutely endless. And they are all there waiting in books to point you in the right direction. All these extraordinary men and women saying, ‘Let me tell you what I’ve learned in my life.’ What an incredible opportunity. I am sitting here with a book of drawings by Saul Steinberg staring up at me. Steinberg isn’t dead; he is alive and kicking in my office. He sat here, alive in his work, saying, ‘What can I do for you Geoff? What can I teach you about my life through my work? Ask me, I’m here.’ Did you know that Escher lives with me? You’re damn right he does! And he only cost me about 20 quid. It was an absolute steal, I have to tell you. A steal. He is here with me now. All his drawings 110

‘I’ve absolutely no reason to moan about the “success” of my work. The price was so little that I am almost embarrassed to mention it. The very fact that the great Escher can doubt his own work. And yet I’m plagued by an immense feeling of inferiority. a desperate sense of general failure. Yet this one book has given me more direction and more hope than any amount of money could have. When I am feeling a little insecure about my work he is there to help me. But in his book he said. Where do these crazy feelings come from?’ I have Gandhi’s life story in front of me. ‘we all feel insecure at times. Geoff. ‘Listen. I’d never have believed that he would have any insecurities at all about this great art. I remember first looking at his work and being filled with awe. can feel like giving it all up. nor about the lack of ideas for there are plenty of them. I went on to become a world-renowned artist but there wasn’t a day when I didn’t doubt my work. “Is this any good?”’ Escher has taught me that insecurity driven into your work is what makes it great.THE POWER OF BOOKS and all his words. Mr Gandhi has taken 111 . There wasn’t a day when I didn’t think. makes me feel that I am not on my own and that it is OK to have bad days. I spend more than that on car parking in a single week. The book cost eight pounds. An ordinary person can reach the stars.’ he tells me. can feel insecure.

If you discipline yourself and get a lot of reading done. Take what it was that made them legendary and make it a part of you. and he made loads of mistakes along the way. you could. You can take a thousand great people and learn the lessons they gleaned from their lives. their ‘instructions for life’ so that you can get onto the fast track.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD me behind the scenes of his life and shown me the rights and the wrongs.’ Gandhi learned how to lead himself. There are only so many things we can learn in one lifetime. Can you imagine that? And reading his book taught me that I could. so that you don’t have to do the thousands of experiments they had to do to learn what they learned. That’s why books were invented. By doing so he built up a personal following of over three hundred million people. only so many lessons we can learn with the finite years that we are allotted. That one single thing is ‘me. He has shown me that I only have to master one single thing in my life and I can have anything I want. It’s not enough time really. you can become the manifestation of a thousand great people. and we all could do exactly the same thing. These people have left their stories. This also means that nothing is beyond you once you decide to ride the bull. He has given me the secret to inner power. Once you have acquired this 112 . he has taught me that faith in yourself and your God means immortality.

read the stories. it’ll be the best habit you ever make. 113 . learn the lessons and put them into action. All you have to do is get out there and buy the books. The biographies of great people are simply that. They have departed to another plane and left you the treasure maps. If you make reading a habit.THE POWER OF BOOKS knowledge you can use it to power your own journey of discovery. street maps to life. It’s great. If you wanted to get around London the best thing to do would be to buy a street map. It’s so wonderful.

He worked a nine-to-five job that bored him completely. I knew he was kidding himself. He did not wait for the grants or the permissions or the favours or the 114 . they direct. It was all he wanted to do. He wanted to direct so he directed. He wasn’t directing. He was not a member of any film groups. He did not direct his own films on the weekends. Today he is one of the most respected and sought after directors in Britain. He lived and breathed directing. All he did was talk.Chapter 21 The Reciprocal Universe I spoke with a guy the other day who told me that his passion was directing film. Directors do not talk. Take Shane Meadows. He wanted to be a director so he got together with a few mates and a camera and directed a bunch of short films that got him noticed.

Then (after the director. As soon as his money situation is better. He has 115 . the designer. Neither was it the time or the tides. I know that my friend is not a real writer because he throws something together over a weekend and blames the fates when it comes back unread and unwanted. the actors.THE RECIPROCAL UNIVERSE fates. He got a camera. he got his mates and he got busy making films. But it was not the cash that was stopping him. the tea boy and the runners have read the first draft) they go away and write it again and again and again until it positively shimmers. he is going to invest in a course. It was only the money that was holding him back. I have another friend (several actually) who wants to make a splash in the world of martial arts. he said. the producer. That is what directors do. It was simply the fact that he was not a writer because writers write. I have a friend who wants to write. the financers. They sit on their arses and bleed into their computers until they have 120 pages (that will need to be paired painfully down to 90) of carefully crafted prose. He tells me that he lives and breathes writing. Writers do not talk a good script. Writing is his life. a computer and maybe a trip to Cannes where he could pitch his film idea and get the funds he needs to sit and write the great work that he has in him.

They create their own favour. 116 . He dreams of going to Brazil to train with the Gracie family (but its too far). They live and they breathe it. with the best folks on the planet. He might even do a little stint in Japan (but his wife isn’t keen). He is just a man with a bag of excuses that get ever more diverse and inventive. whenever and wherever they can. the time. He thinks about training in the US with the Machado brothers (but it’s too dear). The universe is touchsensitive to our intentions. but because my friend does not really want them enough. He is not really a martial artist with something big to say to the world. If only he was as lucky as me and was able to give up his job and train full-time he felt sure that he could hit the world stage. They move with such force that the whole universe is forced to react and create their dream.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD something big to say (he says) and the minute the circumstances are right (perhaps next year?) he will say it. Brazil will always be too far a trip and his wife will never agree to Japan. next week or next year. Let me tell you that it does not wait for tomorrow. the permission. There will never be enough money to purchase tutelage from the Gracies. they find the money. It waits only for you. Martial artists train. And this is not because any of these things are not possible. But he knows deep down (as I know) that the circumstances will never quite favour him.

Book yourself on that directing course you always wanted to do. But nothing will move until you move. Now is the time to act.THE RECIPROCAL UNIVERSE So let me ask you this: When are you going to make a move? When are you going to command the fates to do your bidding? When are you going to wave your baton of intention and orchestrate the universe? Don’t wait like the masses for tomorrow. if the very thought of acting makes you quiver with fear. like the millions before. 117 . Set a deadline date to make your first film. it does not exist. All growth has a kernel of discomfort. a red light for the majority. Sit and write. but for the minority – those with spunk and drive and ambition – discomfort is a green light. make it real now. And if you are scared. serendipity only manifests when we take up our positions and act. fate does not shape circumstance without action. Whatever it is that you have been dreaming of. Discomfort is good. GOOD. go and run. Nutrients do not mobilise until the seed of intention is planted. become the dust of a generation that died with their best music still in them. Start the writing class that has been in your mind forever. before you. Jump and a net will appear.

‘There is no Land Rover. You are on selection for the SAS. There is… NO LAND ROVER. It keeps me on track. There is no… ’ I suppose I should explain what I’m talking about before you get to thinking that me and my glassysmooth marbles have parted company. Picture the scene.Chapter 22 There is No Land Rover ‘There is no Land Rover.’ I say it over and over again in my mind with the rhythm of a metronome. There is no Land Rover.’ It keeps me sane. ‘There is no Land Rover. It stops me from being fooled into resting up and celebrating too soon. You’ve just hiked goodness knows how many miles 118 . loosening my helmet straps before the fight is won.

The Land Rover. toe-blackening Brecon Beacons on little more than a Mars Bar and the promise that ‘when you see the Land Rover. past the graves of former aspirants. ‘How much further. and (for the majority) that trick is enough to kill their dream. it drives off leaving you stranded and confused and distraught – and fooled.’ he gives you one of those wry smiles and says. total collapse an ever present vulture on your left shoulder.’ So all the way around. ‘Until you see the Land Rover. Jump in the back.’ Most people. over hills and valleys. at this point. They have been tricked. walking on blisters. The sergeant (dressed in a warm coat. take off your boots. you’re home. sipping a hot tea) tells you to continue on. You smile for the first time in days. Home. They take an imaginary towel and throw it into the ring of metaphor. working around strains and cuts and injuries. You quicken your pace. do not continue on. Your mind rushes forward to a hot tea. 119 . maybe some food and bed. When you ask him. have yourself a brew. Like a watery oasis in a dry desert.THERE IS NO LAND ROVER over the icy. But just as you get within a few feet of your golden carriage. hovering somewhere between breathlessness and total exhaustion. utter failure an odds-on favourite on your right… and then you see it. living on fresh air and a frozen chocolate bar.

I’ve lost count of friends who have celebrated a deal before that all important eleventh hour. a battle is going to finish (imminently) or a big deal is as good as done (just ‘t’s to cross and ‘i’s to dot). For those who do manage to pick themselves up and continue (for an added and unspecified distance). I have seen many strong fighters beaten just at the point where they thought victory was certain. the Land Rover does not exist. Well. ‘There is no Land Rover. So many people fall for the Land Rover trick and give up just short of greatness because they allow themselves to believe that the Land Rover exists.’ And that becomes their mantra. They only placed enough fuel in the tank to get them to the Land Rover. I remember this every time I think a script is going to be optioned (definitely this time). Regretfully.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD It has beaten them. sort of. Especially when everyone around you is telling you that there is. Not even a foot beyond. it does exist. there is instant enlightenment. Until they are literally sitting inside the vehicle of choice with a hot tea. There is no Land Rover. but only when you’ve got 120 . and not beyond. I had friends who lost their lives when they loosened their helmet straps because they believed that the enemy had retreated and the fight was (as good as) won.

And that will remain my mantra.’ When the film is on screen.THERE IS NO LAND ROVER your arse on the seat. I take my celebratory beverage because that is the only time the Land Rover is real. 121 . The Land Rover is always ‘just over the next hill. Until then is it little more than a phantom. It is healthy to remember this if you intend to reach the top in any game because (believe me) that big deal is always looming. and the tea in your hand. when the cheque is in the bank (and has cleared) and when the back door is bolted and secured. Until then there is no Land Rover.

Nick Park. I’d just won an international development award for my film script Clubbed (based on my book Watch My Back). ‘if that’s what I intend to do then why not? Why not! There’s a guy in Preston. ‘I suppose it’ll be the Oscars next then?’ His attitude landed like a heavy right.’ I replied (a bit too defensively). ‘Well yea. I had to tell someone. ‘Oh. I assured myself that my 122 . It’s what you do when providence lights your day. I see.Chapter 23 They Laughed at Lowry Excitedly I phoned a friend to tell him my news. who’s won four!’ (If I have to I’ll go and get one of his!) After replacing the receiver. still reeling from his unexpected response.’ he said halfscoffing. There was bitterness in his tone that made me regret the call. half laughing.

the haughty elite of the contemporary art world held their chuckling bellies and laughed the gentle northerner out of Manchester. Who’s laughing now? And they laughed at Lowry. I wasn’t the first to be laughed at for daring to dream. too. They slandered him at every opportunity for trying to be more than (they thought) he was. When the painter L. They called him insane. giant-slaying industry. They called him an amateur and his work (at best) naïve. Reinhold Messner climbed Nanga Parbat solo only six weeks after conquering Everest without oxygen. let alone achieved – they didn’t just laugh at him. hold me back. ‘Who (they asked) does he think he is?’ Later. and I should never let him. When a young German climber told his friends of his bold intentions to climb the perilous mountain Nanga Parbat solo – a feat never before attempted. Ben & Jerry turned their $30 investment into a billion dollar. cynicism and jealousy are a familiar trinity. Lowry first placed his oils to canvas. you know. Criticism. or any others. often encountered when leaving a muddy comfort zone en route to a starry ideal. when the (so-called) mighty had crumbled under the might and beauty of Lowry’s 123 . neither would I be the last. Equally insane was the idea that two inexperienced men (with an investment of only $30 and a penchant for good ice cream) could one day take on confectionary giant Hagen Das.S.THEY LAUGHED AT LOWRY friend’s attitude need not ruin my day.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD vision.’ Manchester opened The Lowry Galleries to honour his work. but also perhaps because of them. I love that! Don’t you love that? All of us have at one time or another had our ideas stamped on. This is a job for life. I can take solace in the fact that they laughed at Lowry. His later exhibitions were dedicated to ‘the men who laughed at Lowry. scoffed at or laughed about – often by those closest to us. not only in spite of his detractors.’ He laughed at me. he winked at me (as wise old veterans are inclined to do). I turned to my workmate at the factory – elbow-deep in suds. nails full of shit – and said to him. then leaning forward (as though about to tell me a secret). ‘There’s got to be more to life than this. He became global. I can well remember being bored to depression in the distant past and thinking. ‘This is your lot. ‘There must be more to life than this. ‘you should be grateful. Lowry had the last laugh.’ he said.’ Seeking answers. All of us have watched the uncouth kick our dreams around the floor like cola cans.’ 124 . and his genius shone through the oils (bidders eventually paid millions to own one of his originals). I love the Lowry story because I have been the butt of many an unkind ‘who does he think he is’ jibe when I dared to swim against the societal stream.

It was like a dry slap across the gob. What he said next – not just the words. This is my life. watch out! They laughed at Lowry. I snapped my broom (very symbolic) and left the factory forever. go anywhere. And for those that laugh at my dreams. We all can. And more. be whomever I want. but the bitterness and conviction with which he delivered them – didn’t either. And look what happened to him. And I am still doing them. I think he could tell by the way my jaw went slack and my eyes hit the floor like marbles that his shopfloor philosophy had failed to enlighten me. All the things I wanted to do. things I was told I could not – I did.’ Shortly after my tête-à-tête with Plato-of-thelathe. never to return.THEY LAUGHED AT LOWRY It was the job-for-life bit that scared the tripe out of me. ‘You’ll still be here when you’re 60. I can do anything. 125 .

Chapter 24 Time My first book was written whilst sitting on the toilet in a factory that employed me to sweep floors. I now suffer loss of feeling in my lower legs and a permanent red ring around my bum. then lack 126 .’ Invariably. but if you haven’t. I am just making the point that if you have the will you’ll always find a way. far from it. or you harbour any doubts or fears. their faces scrunch into question marks when I ask. In fact. ‘Is there a toilet where you work?’ Not that I recommend the loo as the healthiest environment to write your latest – or indeed first – bestseller. after six months of sitting on the throne writing. so you can imagine the fun I have when people comment – on finding out that I am a writer – ‘Of course I’d love to write a book but I haven’t got the time.

multi-million. but that’s no excuse for not starting out. Many godzillionaires made their fortunes not only despite their handicaps but also because of them. whenever I failed to fully commit myself to a goal – and there were many such occasions – or when I did not place my heart in the driving seat. at some point in your development. tools and facilities will be important and lack of them can hold you back. And. But by the same count. (Do you have a toilet where you work?) Granted. Richard Branson’s first office was a public phone booth. When I wrote my first book I was doing two jobs and bringing up a family. hey.TIME of time will always be a convenient excuse not to live your dreams. I was fully committed to writing it. Pelé.(even multibillion-) pound business was started from a rickety garden shed held together by chunks of work ethic and a set of hand-me-down. A great proportion of successful entrepreneurs built their conglomerates out of cottage industry. and certainly no pretext for not succeeding. Many a thriving. ‘time’ was not forthcoming and the vehicle refused to move. arguably the greatest football player of all time. I wanted desperately to write a book. honed his ball skill kicking coconuts barefoot (ouch!) on the beach. The next convenient excuse (believe me I have used them all) that people lean towards is lack of facility. elbow-greased tools. I found the time. He 127 .

my driving force. ringbound reporter’s pad kindly donated by the factory stores. and how many are stolen while people stand in the shadow of trepidation? For instance. And it’s not because prospective publishers turn down their work. I had no time.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD had no facilities and no money. it is thought that some of the greatest writers of each generation never see their name in print and are never published. no machine with fail-safe grammar and spell check – unless you count my wife who kept saying things like. All my early work was hand-written and in severe conditions that did not lend themselves to my quest. ‘You’ve spelt that wrong’ – and no hefty commission-carrot tempting the words from my often uncooperative unconscious. rather it is because the authors never send their work to them. Whilst I may have lacked the 128 . The only thing I did have that set me apart from the crowd was desire. Do you realise how many genius ideas are lost when the moment is not seized. Until I could afford a word processor (later a computer) my working tools consisted of one blue biro (with perfunctory chewed top) and a lined. Or even worse. but he did have a forceful desire that attracted success and convinced bank managers to hand over the readies without a security or reference in sight. was the dread of having to work in the factory for the rest of my life. My only incentive. they never actually write it in the first place.

time is very malleable. It also means sacrificing some of the little things that act as timeeating termites. if we fail to use it profitably. ‘I haven’t got time’ because you have. Once you have desire and you totally commit yourself to the process it is almost as though the whole universe conspires to make it happen. I did desperately want to write. those searching for the grail of achievement. it can be stretched. My want was always greater than my lack. But above all it means refraining from using the time-honoured excuse. Really! In my experience. But as I said. It is what we do with our time that determines where our lives may lead. And I know how hard it can be. Paradoxically. For me it means getting up early and going to bed late. Those who don’t make the commitment rarely. And I figure that when it comes to using our time we would be wise to recognise that we are all allotted the same amount. make the grade. never to be seen again. I brought up four children so I know all about responsibility. ‘haven’tgot-the-time’ is just a pseudonym for ‘haven’t129 . I am sympathetic to family and work commitments. it will be gone forever. if ever.TIME contemporary tools of the scribe and my writing quarters were certainly not ideal (one might say that they were piss-poor). it accommodates committed souls. time can be cruel. We immortalise our time when we invest every second. Branson and Gates only get 24 hours a day. minute and hour in the present.

If you want something enough. I was once one of them.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD got-the-will’. They’re the ones sitting in the factory canteen bemoaning their existence and blaming the world for their lack. You don’t have to look far to see the people that don’t make that commitment. nothing will get in your way. Not least because I refuse to be a 90-something coffin dweller spending my days regretting the things that I failed to do. Now I make a commitment. For many reasons. 130 . nothing will stop you. and I mean really want it with your heart and soul. You’ll always fit in more if ‘more’ is preceded by a no-excuses personal commitment to making it happen.

I went for a walk in the 131 . I do hope so. In that dark void. You are going through an emotional stretch and things feel a little (or a lot) dark. You feel sort of needlessly tortured. I figure it is simply a purgatory situated somewhere between the edge of our comfort zones and freedom that we will continue to visit as long as we continue to grow. And who would want that? I was there again recently actually. So I did what I often do between the night and day of personal transformation. As uncomfortable as it might be I know that without adversity there will be no advance. I was as vulnerable as the lobster shedding its shell. Life had cornered me with a heavy dose of highlychallenging workload and unexpected family illness.Chapter 25 Waterfall You know how it is sometimes.

In fact the deepest part of the whole stream was right there. I liked this observation. Immediately after the fall. I hit the last five minutes of my walk and stood on a bridge that acted as both a crossing point to a small stream and an observation platform to a beautiful little waterfall. It helped me to realise and understand that after adversity. something that might rub a little balm across my throbbing brow. The turmoil of the fall seemed to exactly mirror the internal struggle that I was experiencing. I noticed that in the stream immediately after the fall the water was very deep. something that gave me the inspiration that I was looking for. the Niagara that all of us experience during difficult times. that is. Nature has many lessons.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD local country park to see if nature had any lessons to offer. But today nature was not forthcoming. Until. a deeper more profound understanding could 132 . as a consequence. It had been raining heavily all week and. raging and seemingly uncontrollable emotions that were racing through my mind and body with an energy that I did not recognise as my own. In fact much of what I have learned thus far about pain has been through observing how (as the Bible says) the lilies in the field neither spin nor toil. Nothing I observed offered any solace. Then I intuited something else. the waterfall was gushing over the precipice into the stream below.


be found. I stretched back in my mind and realised that my greatest life lessons thus far, the reference points that helped me to negotiate ever new and ever burgeoning challenges, had always been born out of hard times. The good stuff that I wrote about in my books, talked about in my videos/podcasts and dramatised in my films and plays was the fruit of the hard harvests that life had given me. Then I looked further along the stream, on the other side of the bridge, and I noticed that the water there was very calm. This told me something too. It told me that even the most violent storms do not last forever, and that after adversity there is always peace; after great darkness comes great light. This gave me hope. At the time I desperately needed it. Often when we are in the very middle of a crisis our pain feels infinite and without end. My observations told me that no single feeling can last forever. As I continued to watch (and this is completely true) I noticed a duck swimming down the stream. It didn’t seem to notice that about ten feet in front of it the waterfall was at full rage. I wondered how the duck might deal with it. I watched and observed and was amazed to see that a few feet away from the waterfall the duck simply lifted itself out of the water, flew above the waterfall and landed safely on the other side of the bridge where the waters were calm. Amazing. What I loved about this was the fact that the raging waterfall was still there, the duck 133


just chose to rise above it. It did not attach to the turmoil below. I walked away with my first smile in weeks, determined to no longer attach to my pain, knowing that my understanding would deepen because of my experience and that there was a heavy dose of calm coming my way sometime soon.


Chapter 26

We Are All Dying
I have some good news and some bad news for you (as the joke goes). The bad news – and I’m very sorry to be the bearer – is that we are all dying. It’s true. I’ve checked it out. In fact, I’ve double- and triple-checked it. I’ve had it substantiated and, well, there’s no easy way to say it, we are dying. It’s something that I always kind of knew, but never really chose to think about too much. But the fact is, within the next 70 or 80 years – depending on how old you are and how long you last – we are all going to be either coffin dwellers or trampled ash in the rose garden of some local cemetery. We may not even last that long. After all, we never quite know when the hooded, scythe-carrying, bringer-of-the-lastbreath might come-a-calling. It could be sooner than we’d like. I have watched death from the sidelines, 135

All that’s left is the middle bit and that’s down to us. all those plans that you have on the back burner. So putting your dreams on the back burner until the circumstances are right means that they’ll probably never be realised. It’s official. We already know how the story ends. Tomorrow? It’s all a lie. and nothing underlines the uncertainty and absolute frailty of humanity like the untimely exit of a friend. there isn’t a tomorrow. We owe it to ourselves to go out and do them now before it’s too late. There’s only a promissory note that we are often 136 . The prologue and epilogue are already typed in. Our only regrets in life are the things we don’t do. It needs to be brought forward and done now. the West End play you want to direct – you have to do them now. pronto. Scary. as quick as your little legs will carry you. the time is never quite right. We get to choose the meat of the story. this minute. the great things you’re going to do with your life ‘when the time is right?’ Well. here’s the good news. Now that I have depressed you. in a hurry. the trip to the Grand Canyon you’ve always planned to take. The novel that you want to write. I find. see. Knowing that we are all budding crypt-kickers takes away all the uncertainty of life. you know. We’re dying. So. your mind’s-eye dreamjob.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD quite recently in fact.

Like the once-a-year holiday to Florida or Spain. Fill your bowl. 137 . we can cram as much into that tiny bowl as we can carry. They just know that they only have one shot at it. an empty field that will remain so unless we start planting some seeds. It doesn’t even exist. They’re not greedy. ‘Have as much salad as you like but you can only go up once. Tomorrow is just another version of now. a bit faster if you don’t invest your time wisely) will be gone and you’ll have nothing to show for it but regret and a rear-view mirror full of ‘could haves’. Fit as much into the short time there as you can. Make sure that you go back home knackered because you got so much done. which is ticking away as we speak (at about 60 seconds a minute chronologically.WE ARE ALL DYING not in a position to cash. Have you ever noticed when you go to a buffet restaurant how they give you a bowl the size of a saucer and then say. ‘should haves’ and ‘would haves’. We come this way but once so let’s make the best of the short stay. Your time. I love watching people ingeniously stack the cucumber around the side of the bowl – like they’re filling a skip – and then cramming it so high that they have to hire a fork-lift truck to get it back to the table. Like the hungry people waiting for their main course. When you wake up in the morning it’ll be today again and all the same rules will apply.’ Life is like that small salad bowl.

it never arrives. She’s stood us up.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD If you don’t want to be a postman then don’t be a postman. We all have the same amount of minutes. And now is the time. whatever. a tobogganist. Just don’t be something that you patently do not want to be. Give it up and be a painter. So I say stop waiting and meet providence half way. while the inspiration is high. how we invest it. We wait. It’s the girl who keeps us standing at the corner of the co-op looking like a spanner. a writer. we all get the same 24 hours as Branson and Gates. So what I’m thinking is (and this is not molecular science) if we are dying and our allotted time is finite. why the hell aren’t we doing all the things we want to do NOW? What’s all this back-burner stuff? And why are we all waiting for the right time when we already know that the right time isn’t going to show? The right time is the cheque that’s permanently in the post. the right time never arrives. Start filling your life with the riches on offer so that when the reaper arrives. If you can’t have what you want this very second the least you can do is start the journey now. that determines where our lives may lead. not tomorrow. It’s just what we do with our time. you’ll have achieved so 138 . this minute. There is no time like the present. No amount of clock watching will change the inevitable.

Act now or your time will elapse and you’ll end up as a sepia-coloured relative that no one can put a name to in a dusty photo album. ‘Joe Smith… hmmm. He didn’t do much did he?’ 139 . crammed your time so full that he’ll fall asleep waiting for your life to flash before your eyes.WE ARE ALL DYING much. Better to leave a biography as thick as a whale omelette than an epitaph.

treading the world stage with the greats. He was living without a purpose. It is easily done. He wanted (he told me) to be the best at something. Being the funny guy that everyone knows I am I could easily have offered the hilarious advice I give most people who have lost something important. Not that he’d never had a purpose. He was feeling a little sorry for himself (it’s allowed – he is human) because he woke up one morning recently and realized why he’d been feeling so depressed for the last month or so. My friend had once courted high aspirations. ‘Why not look down the back of the settee?’ 140 .Chapter 27 What do You Want to do? I had a letter today from a friend. he was going to train in multi-disciplines and become a martial arts maverick. rather he’d had one and (somehow) lost it.

’ I’ve been here a hundred times myself). he talked about how well his partner was doing with her career. look at what a failure I am.’ and perhaps one of them might even be the thing he could be the best at. work that he thought might make ‘a great career. I wasn’t interested in what will earn him the most money or even what might offer the ‘I’ve-made-it’ status that so many people crave. He also included a list of jobs he quite fancied doing. What he didn’t include on his list was what he REALLY wanted to do. and how he was moving jobs and cities to support her (because he loved her) and also how pleased he was for her success. or what is expected of him. In the whole scope of things none of this is important. my friend included a list of all the things that he had tried and not completed (this is part of the self-pity. But from the gloomy tone of my friend’s correspondence I figured that even a jokester as original as I might be wasting time with mirth when wisdom (and a quick solution) was being sought to the age-old problem: How do I find my purpose? How can I become the best at something? In his email.WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? It is amazing what you can find if you move a few pillows and slide your fingers and wrist into that scary abyss.’ 141 . I am not talking about what he thinks he should do or what others think he should do. ‘It’s all bollocks. ‘Poor me. In colloquial speak.

They tell me that their life/job/family/commitments/mortgage keeps them imprisoned. and what I asked him (and what I now ask you) is this: WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT TO DO? I mean REALLY. Forget responsibilities. Forget what you think and are told is impossible.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD What I really wanted to know. I have friends on six. Consider this: You spend two-thirds of your waking life at work. What do you really want to do? If money and people were not an issue what is it that you would most like to spend your entire waking life doing? What is it that you love so much that time disappears when you do it? What is it that puts a light in your eyes at the mere mention of its name? That (I told him. I tell them they are wrong. Forget expectation. It is their ignorance that keeps them imprisoned. Forget what others want and expect and demand. Do you really want to be bartering that 142 . forget the government. I tell you. No more and no less. Forget income. Forget society. A job with great career prospects and great money has nothing whatsoever to do with following a dream. I tell me) is what he should either be doing or at the very least making plans to do.and seven-figure incomes who hate the jobs that they do with a passion. I tell them that their right to choose differently will set them free.

I’ve got people relying on me.’ Of course it’s difficult. It is not that easy. rich poets. when I got my black belt in judo after some of the hardest training in my life. the smell. if everything came easy what would be the point? I have found that there is no flavour where there is no labour. It was a cup of tea! The taste. If you are the best at what you do (and it is easier to be the best when you are passionate about what you do) the money will follow – it always follows passion. ‘I’ve got a mortgage to pay. the texture. I used to work full time as a martial-arts instructor. If it was easy everybody would be doing it. Similarly. Only that it was possible. What you work and strive for has a taste and texture that are only born from effort. When I did my 40 rounds on the bag after a five-mile run. and certainly the most difficult 143 . And I did train. wealthy martial artists. the feel – it was almost miraculous. And anyway. a cup of tea was not just a cup of tea. It is at this point that people usually shake their heads and arch an eyebrow (as though I really don’t get it) and say something like. who says you can’t earn just as much money and enjoy just as good a lifestyle in a career that you love? I know millionaire plumbers.’ To which I usually reply.WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? much of your time just for a lifestyle? And anyway. ‘I don’t remember saying that it was easy. It was my job to train for a living.

144 . How noble. All those who walk around it. knew someone on the inside (because. This is the excuse offered by the people who just don’t step up. walk under it or over it. If you are good enough you make it. undervalued.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD grading I’ve ever done. And the only reason they themselves didn’t make it was because they maintained their integrity. And it wasn’t until I buried that sickly heap of selfpity that I finally got on. And what a heap of horseshit. So hard is where it is at. How do I know? I have used the same excuse many times on my way to where I am now. They wine because they feel overlooked. Or they claim that the person on the inside sold out. ‘it’s who you know’). hard-done-by or elbowed out. They sit outside and (many of them) bitch about how the people inside got a lucky break. never get invited to the Emperor’s banquet. End of story. It is the prerequisite to success. had it easy. The lad that walked into the sports centre for the grading on Saturday morning was not the man who emerged on Saturday afternoon. I was a changed man. those that avoid ‘hard’ like it is a piece of shit on the floor. If you don’t make it you look back into your self and take responsibility for that failing and either try again or quit bitching. as we all know.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? Back to my friend. I can’t work out what is holding him back. To be the very best though.’ She was so right. He was asking for my advice. though he was unsure of what that something might be. I remember looking at one of my friends. He wanted to find it again. You need to do a brutal inventory of your level. I said to Sharon. Don’t inflate your ability and don’t be self-depreciating. ‘He thinks he is world class already. How was he ever going to try for the next level when he thought that he was already there? So. He could be world class. I know many people (especially in the martial arts) who already think that they are world class and are constantly wondering why the world is not acknowledging them. Where are you really? If you are not sure (and this is a hard 145 . give yourself an honest check-up. ‘This guy has got so much potential. 1) First you need to acknowledge where you are right now. What I have learned from my 46-years of life is that anyone can be the best at anything if they are prepared to invest themselves in it (my book Shapeshifter has more on this process). world class. He had lost his purpose. It wasn’t happening for him and I couldn’t work out why. a decent fighter with a whole heap of potential who wasn’t taking that next step. This is important. I would say that four elements need to be in place. global. He also wanted to be the best at something.’ She looked at him and said said to me.

But if you are really serious about finding purpose don’t worry. a search is in order. the ‘what’ in question is probably and usually something that you have always wanted to do since you were a child and would be prepared to do even if there was no money involved. they can’t always work out what. ‘I am going to be a world-class drummer. If your purpose is not clear. 2) You need an absolute passion for your subject matter. This needs to be someone that you trust. 3) Once you have your purpose in place make sure that it is something that you personally believe you 146 .’ His dad looked at him and said. Finding a passion is often difficult for many people because while they want to do something great. usually the kind of search that goes in and not out.’ The reply was harsh and to the point but this is the kind of honesty that you need if you want to be great. you have to make sure the second element is in place.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD one) ask the one person in your life who will tell you honestly. A very famous drummer was approached by his teenage son. ‘Then you’d better get busy because at the moment you just ain’t doing the work. it’ll find you when you are ready.’ he said. ‘Dad. son. Once you have a realistic assessment of where you stand on the hierarchical ladder. From my experience. but at the same time is not afraid to tell you that you are just not cutting it. someone who is not afraid to tell you that you are great.

it is about making that talk ‘walk. hearing it.WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? can be the best at. And talking doesn’t make a champion. despite all the elements. you can earn a living from because to be the best at anything you need to work at it full time. eventually. It is about taking it to bed with you and waking up with it on the tip of your tongue. too young. It is about reading it. The martial artists talk about Lee or O’Neil. If you are not sure that you can. feeling it. Once you have your four elements in place. You don’t have to look far for sterling examples of people who have achieved the most outrageous success. the screenwriters talk about Abbot or Webb Peoples but when you look closely that is all they do. They talk. Experience has told me that anyone can do anything. supping it through the froth of your beer. watching it. eating it with your breakfast. what you do needs to be something that. 4) Ironically. Many people talk about being the best at this and that. writing it. smelling it. maybe you feel too old. And walk. It is about surrounding yourself with it and above all else it is about putting in the (thousands of hours of) practise (under escalating 147 . the guitarists talk Clapton or Hendrix. talking it (but not too much talking). if you want to aim high.’ And walk. Scan the book shops and Internet for proof to the opposite. seeing it. too weak or too poor to make the top tier.

Aiming for pinnacles is uncomfortable. let tell you about struggle! I remember the time when… ’ So. You will never be a great anything if you haven’t suffered.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD instruction) that is needed before the world stage offers you its boards to tread. pick up the old scent and make a great adventure out of finding your purpose. ‘Hey. There is hardly any air up there in the higher echelons and you can suffer. The universe is in dire need of adventurers and it is waiting for your contribution. If you want to be the best. if like my friend you have lost your purpose. 148 . Don’t let it down. If this is a time of confusion for you. get excited because that alone makes this is a great time. you can say. Confusion and struggle are the pre-cursers to major breakthroughs. Be worthy of the suffering and the struggle. so that when you arrive and people come to you for advise and complain about how hard their life is and how they are struggling. But that’s good. stop talking and start doing. a time of struggle. retrace your steps to a time when you were inspired. Beware.

often even after major successes. Most accomplished people feel this way at one time or another. My heart goes out to all of those out there inflicted by this dreadful disease we call self-doubt. ‘And even if it is. They just 149 . It might help to know that you are not alone. ‘who am I to be a success?’ I have lost count of the amount of times I have heard this comment (and even said the very same thing to myself in my darker moments). I know how debilitating it can be and I really do know how you feel.Chapter 28 Who am I to be a Success? I’ve had a few interesting conversations recently with people who really want to achieve some major goals in their lives but are plagued by a false belief that what it is they are aiming for is somehow not possible.’ they say to me.

A plethora of folks can 150 . rather he was a success because he learned to ignore. but he sets himself above his biology and steps into the arena not just despite his fear. Loads of people have the facts.’ Reading and listening will help you learn the process but the only true knowledge is earned knowledge. This entails getting a series of (even small) successes behind you to build on. It took me a long time to believe in myself. Because he recognised it he was able to step through it like a fog. and even use his fears as a fuel. But knowing is not enough – you have to ‘do. It is inspiring to know that even the master feels the same pain and fear as you. but perhaps because of it. The great artist Escher was so full of insecurity and self-doubt that he would often feel an almost overpowering urge to stop a project. Even the master Samurai on the battlefield is not without fear. His body still sweats and shivers with the anticipation of war. It helps to have some strong points of reference to fall back on. He learned to recognise this self-doubt as a pre-curser to all his great works. He became massively successful not because he never felt doubt or fear.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD learn to override the negative voices in their heads and do the work anyway. the easier it gets. sometimes as soon as five minutes after starting. but the more you push through the doubts and the more success you get behind you.

Expect discomfort. Remember this when you try to change in order to grow and the people who love you turn their love to hate because you go from writing articles to books. it is the pre-requisite. depression. knockbacks. novels to films or films to 151 . despair and the occasional failure. Expect the fear.WHO AM I TO BE A SUCCESS? quote you book. set-backs. It is not the art of knowing. it is the art of doing. Once you have ‘made it’ expect the same again. Salinger never published again. write anyway. books to novels.’ So when people ask me for lessons in becoming (for instance) a writer I always say the first lesson in writing is to write. but information without experience is (what Shakespeare might have called) ‘a giant’s robe on a dwarfish thief. The very same critics savaged him when his second book was not to their liking. So to be a writer just keep writing. The same as the first lesson of running is to run and the first lesson of fighting is to fight. All the gold is in the pain. line and verse on how to be the best ‘this and that’ on the planet. The critics lauded JD Salinger when he wrote the classic Catcher in the Rye. when even your biggest fans call you all sorts of horrible names if your second book doesn’t measure up (in their eyes) to your first or if you change style of try something new. criticism. Expect trepidation. put-downs.

tailor. soldier. nothing is. You have to be able to greet fear and doubt and (at times) utter despair along your chosen path and face these demons down. you have to get past the fear. I have lost count of the number of people who told me that I was kidding myself when I said I wanted to become a top martial artist and when I said I was going to write books and films.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD plays. Close friends. To get the gold. Who are you to succeed? Who the fuck are you not to? You may deem great success an impossible thing. 152 . Everything you want resides just behind that membrane of fear you are feeling right now.’ If you want to be anything – a writer. I applaud you for it because difficult in the game of life is categorically a green light and not a red. Even people that I loved scoffed at me. Remember this when you try to change styles or systems or dogmas and the frightened and the wary warn you to ‘leave well enough alone. I can tell you now that you have chosen a very difficult path. martial artist. tinker. but it is not. sailor – more than the norm. That is why I was so elated at the BAFTAs because it proved to all of them (and to myself) that I (and they) can do anything. They liked you as you were and where you were.

If this is the case – and the evidence for it is compelling – why do so many people still continue to eat a diet of poison ivy and expect rose-petal health? Why (as the old adage goes) do we do what we do when we know what we know? 153 . We also know (or should anyway) that the leading cause of death (heart disease) finds its way in through bad eating habits. I do. I think it’s long overdue. We’ve all known (or at least we have always been told) that the food we take in determines the performance we give out. I love it.Chapter 29 You Are What You Ingest Have you noticed how many programmes there are on the telly these days about healthy eating? Everything from Jamie’s Dinners to Dr Gillian McKeith’s You Are What You Eat.

In fact every piece of information that you absorb becomes chemicals in your body. But even with my food in place there was still something missing. mood found a steady and happy homeostasis. health was up. I have to say that I did feel a lot better for it. but to take your thoughts to an Olympic level you need to start watching your cerebral diet. and the brain has several forms of nutrition. You can get your diet as tight as you like and it still will not bring you optimum results if your thoughts aren’t right.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD This is a question I am going to leave you to ponder on. and whether that growth is healthy or not depends entirely upon the quality of your information ingested. It was at this point I had a great realisation. Energy was up. it relies upon it for growth. Mostly because the answer is as obvious as your nose. It is not physical food that I find completely intriguing. performance improved. Thinking comes through and from the brain. Healthy eating improves thinking no end. This is not a statement of metaphor. There was still a piece of the jigsaw lost. Watch a porn flick or a violent movie and the body will explode with a cocktail of 154 . I have spent most of my life reviewing and studying diet in my search for self-improvement (if not enlightenment) and through years of trial and error I managed to get my diet pretty tight. it is cerebral food. Don’t get me wrong. the mainstay being information. Information is a literal food for the brain.

hang out with. listen to on the radio. Your daily diet of cerebral grub consists of what you watch on TV. Even your environment feeds your brain. Spend the evening having it large with the pub cynics and you may doubt the very existence of good by the end of the evening. Will and you’ll be inspired to traverse the globe – like he has – in search of great martial mentors. Have an afternoon with Deepak Chopra and you’ll probably want to study metaphysics and manifest your dreams out of mid-air. If you are in a shitty part of the city under constant threat of attack don’t believe for even a second that it will not feed your brain. who you talk to (this includes talking to yourself). Stand with gangsters and you’ll get the violent high-octane kick of adrenalin that makes you want to set up a business in the dark arts. But is this the kind of nutrition that you want? I am telling you all this but you know it already. Watch a movie about Gandhi or have a conversation about the global power of love with Mother Teresa and you’ll be filled with endorphins and probably want to save a small village in India or tell someone close that you love them. and if it doesn’t get one (of either) those same hormones will quickly turn rogue. marry. Have an afternoon with BJJ maverick John B. admire and mimic. read.YOU ARE WHAT YOU INGEST stress hormones looking for a fuck or a fight. If you have been around for even two decades you will 155 .

If you have the foresight and the courage. Bad news. cerebral nutrition needs to be consistent. The good results only last as long as the good information. Like physical diet. One bad day on a food binge can throw you into a state of nutritional crisis (your organs are high priority. Stop pretending that 156 . If you don’t want to see the replay of bad health for the rest of your life. get your bollocks on the table and make the changes. I have seen many a good soul turn gangrenous simply because of poor-choice friends. So I say be very fussy about what you ingest. And if they are strong influences they influence strongly. cerebral diet can be changed. Equally. what you watch and read and who you talk to can be changed in the beat of a healthy heart. Here’s the good news and the bad news. Your environment and influences. you only get the one set). one bad night of poor choice company could throw you in jail or worse.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD have experienced enough to know that influences influence. The mortuary slab has no respect for prior good behaviour. Like physical diet. Good news first. It needs to be toppedup daily until it is habit. Everything that goes in will come out in a similar fashion. I have seen many a good soul made obese simply because of greedy and poor-choice eating.

YOU ARE WHAT YOU INGEST what you eat and who you sit with doesn’t affect the very foundation of who you are. You are what you ingest. So ingest what you want to be. 157 .

99 P/b ISBN: 1-84024-264-7 ISBN 13: 978-1-84024-264-5 In India.The Elephant and The Twig The Art of Positive Thinking Geoff Thompson £9. . after trying to break away and being thwarted time and again. No matter how hard the baby elephant pulls it cannot break free. it believes that it cannot escape. Geoff guides you through the process of breaking the negative thinking that binds us and reveals the ‘14 Golden Rules to Success and Happiness’. Ultimately. and eventually. no matter what it does. young elephants are trained in obedience by being tied to an immovable object like a tree. that you would never be able to go it alone in business. a fully-grown adult weighing several tons can be tied to a twig and won’t even try to escape. Do you ever feel that you are tied to an immovable object and can’t break free? That you couldn’t possibly give that presentation. or that you have to remain stuck in a social and lifestyle rut as there is no other alternative? This book argues that what ties you down and prevents you from realising your potential is only a ‘twig’.

How to practise the art of personal transformation. In Shape Shifter. now a martial arts expert. step by step .That shape shifting is our birthright as a creative species . you will learn: . the first self-help guide of its kind.Transform Your Life in 1 Day Shape Shifter Geoff Thompson £7.That with the right strategy and approach. Bafta-award winning film-maker and author of 30 books.99 P/b ISBN: 1-84024-444-5 ISBN 13: 978-1-84024-444-1 What if you could become anything you wanted? What if there was a method of practice that allowed ordinary men and women to transform themselves into beings of extraordinary talent? It is a commonly held belief that the leading lights of society are gifted from birth or just plain lucky. The exbouncer and factory floor sweeper. success is always a choice . screenwriter. but Geoff Thompson believes that anyone with average ability and a strong desire can succeed in any chosen field. knows this better than most.

com .geoffthompson.com www.summersdale.www.

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